University Relations and Communications

Oral cancer survivor to talk at MSU Billings about the dangers of spit tobacco

January 26, 2010



Darla Tyler-McSherry, Student Health Services, 657-2564
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Anyone who has ever wanted to quit using smokeless tobacco or knows someone they want to help quit can get valuable insights from a cancer survivor at a presentation at Montana State University Billings.


Rick Bender

Rick Bender, a former spit tobacco user and oral cancer survivor, will tell his story at a one-hour presentation on Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 7-8 p.m. at the MSU Billings Petro Theatre. The presentation is free, open to the public and refreshments will be served.


This program is designed for anyone, but is especially targeted for young adults and teenagers who think that tobacco only causes cancer in older adults.


The event is part of “Through with Chew Week” promoted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Bender’s appearance at MSU Billings is sponsored by the university’s Student Health Services and MSU Billings HEROES (Health Educators Reaching Others & Encouraging Success.)


A native of California, Bender started using spit tobacco (commonly called “chew”) when he was 12. He said many things influenced his decision to start using, including watching baseball players. When he was 26, he was diagnosed with cancer and in 1989 underwent the first of four major surgeries to remove the cancer. He lost a third of his tongue, half of his jaw and a portion of his right arm and is still fighting the effects of tobacco use today.


He now lives in Kentucky and spends much of his life to educating others about the dangers of chewing tobacco. He has worked with the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States, Major League Baseball and many other organizations.


For more information about his appearance at MSU Billings, contact Darla Tyler-McSherry at the MSU Billings Student Health Services, at 657-2564.