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Cancer patient shares dangers of spit tobacco use

by Maggie O'Neill

MINDEN – About 10 years ago, Gruen von Behrens received a diagnosis of oral cancer. He was 17.

He begun using spit tobacco four years prior. Since his diagnosis, he has undergone surgery after surgery.

Von Behrens of Illinois is spreading a message about the dangers of chewing tobacco to Douglas County students today and Friday.

“Spit tobacco has ruined my life,” he said. “Every time I turn around, they are putting me in the hospital either to have surgery or some kind of treatment. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have put a dip in my mouth.”

Parents are invited to attend the assemblies today at 8 a.m. at Douglas High School, 10:15 a.m. at the Alpine County School District and 2 p.m. at Minden Elementary School. A Friday slot has been left open at 8 a.m. at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School.

The presentation is sponsored by the Partnership of Community Resources, the American Lung Association, Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition and Health Smart.

“Our youth have a right to know how tobacco use can destroy their future,” said Melinda Matus, tobacco education coordinator for the Partnership of Community Resources. “If a 45-minute, up-close and personal appearance could get just one of our youth to stop this expensive, deadly habit or make the decision to never start would you consider sharing those few minutes out of your core curriculum to give them an additional academic lesson?”

For information, contact Matus at the Partnership office at 782-8611.

Contact Maggie O’Neill at mo’neill@recordcourier.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 214.