Man’s experience with oral cancer makes impact on students

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GREENFIELD — Gruen Von Behrens knows his audiences have trouble understanding him.

“I know you can’t understand me sometimes,” Von Behrens warned a crowd of about 100 students at St. Michael School Tuesday. “I know not everything I say will come out just the way I want.”

But that doesn’t mean they didn’t get his message – loud and clear.

If anything, the disfigurement that affects his speech only helps illustrate Von Behrens’ point. The 35-year-old is missing most of lower jaw, part of his tongue and all of his teeth – lost to oral cancer caused by chewing tobacco use.

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