TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For years, the HPV vaccine has been controversial among parents. Now, the Florida legislature is pushing to make it mandatory for public school students.
Jason Mendelsohn, a cancer survivor in Orlando, doesn’t think this is a terrible idea.
Mendelsohn was 44-years-old when he got the scare of his life. “I put my hand on my face to ponder a question, moved my hand down to my neck. I was one minute into a securities exam and I felt a bump,” he said.
That “bump” turned out to be stage four HPV-related oral cancer.
“When they told me I had HPV-related oral cancer and I likely got it from oral sex from a woman in college 20 years ago, I couldn’t believe it. I never slept with a hooker,” he said.
Immediately Mendelsohn, a husband and father of three, thought he was going to die.
“I ended up making videos to each of my three kids. They went something like this: one day you’re going to get married, I’m not going to be there, and this is what is important.”
Mendelsohn is sharing the ugly truth of his journey in hopes of getting others’ attention.
“I had a radical tonsillectomy, neck dissection, 42 lymph nodes removed, followed by seven weeks of chemo, radiation and a feeding tube,” Mendelson said. “I had third-degree burns in my throat. Couldn’t swallow my own saliva for a month. Gagging and choking 20 times a day.”
Mendelsohn is now cancer-free and has a new lease on life. “I try not to have a bucket list I try to have a list of things I want to accomplish and I am working on those,” he said.
“If you have the ability to stop your kids from ever ending up with this cancer, I almost feel like it’s unconscionable that anyone would ever not give the vaccine to their kids.”
Mendelsohn started a website called SupermanHPV.com to raise awareness and help others.