Cancer is a scary thing to go through, but for some reason, I always felt as if I was going to make it through my treatment. However, one of the side effects of the cancer affected me more than any of the others on an emotional level. I’ve always been the type of person who greets people with a smile. Being able to greet my wife, daughters, and grandchildren with a smile seems so like it should be such a small thing. I survived cancer, after all, but to me it was very important.
The particular treatment I had to go through made it so that my teeth would be pulled and the shape of my mouth would change. It was heartbreaking to me not to be able to do the one thing I have always done… smile. I was preparing myself for not being able to afford the treatment I needed to get my smile back while I recovered from chemotherapy and radiation. I’d often try to do things to hide my mouth to overcome the embarrassment I felt from losing my smile.
Then, one day, I received a glimmer of hope. I was told about a dental pilot program through Cancer Action with support from HNC Living Foundation. If approved, I would be their very first patient. I filled out the paperwork and found out a few weeks later their grant had been approved and in turn, so had I.
I began the process with Dr. Andrew VanBlarcom to fit me for dentures and my new smile. From start to finish, he did the entire process. The pride he took in his work was evident and I couldn’t have felt like I was in any better of hands. Shirley Gibson with the Cancer Action helped make the process go smoothly and was a wealth of knowledge. These people and this program not only gave me back my teeth and smile, they changed a shame I felt about my mouth.
Dr. Andrew VanBlarcom
I am forever grateful for their help and this wonderful program. We often take for granted how important everyday things are in our lives. Due to losing my teeth, I lost 40 pounds during my cancer treatment. Chewing, eating, and smiling are some of those things we take for granted, but I no longer do. Thanks to this program, I can do all of those things again. To have my smile back was to stand tall again and I am so grateful to everyone who helped bring it back.