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September 07, 2012 07:11 PM

Stand Up 2 Cancer: Marsha's Story

Cancer survivor Marsha Stensland keeps reminders near her desk of her children and grandchildren who live far away, but are close to her heart.

"None of them live close, so I do a lot of traveling," Stensland said.

Stensland knows just how precious those relationships are.

"My mother died of brain cancer. Her brother died of brain cancer. Her other brother had lung cancer," Stensland said.

Stensland herself was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland almost two years ago after doctors noticed a lump in her mouth. While you may not hear about that type of cancer often, head and neck cancers are on the rise.

"I would say head and neck cancers are probably about 20 percent of the cancers we're dealing with right now," Sanford Radiation Oncologist Dr. Steven McGraw said.

McGraw says a big reason for that is the HPV virus, but you should also not smoke and make sure you have good oral health screens.

"Many of the dentists are doing an oral cancer screening exam as part of their regular dental checkup now, so I think that's a good idea to catch it early. It's much more treatable when caught early than late," McGraw said.

Because Stensland caught her cancer early enough, she's now back to her regular routine: eating, working and of course, taking trips to see her loved ones.

"I hope I have a long life, so I can watch my grandchildren grow," Stensland said.

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