Lehigh Valley Dentists ‘Paying it Forward’

I met Karyn at the Oral Cancer Awareness Walk in October 2009. She was 27, a survivor of oral cancer, and lookin’ fit. Karyn attended the walk with her toddler and sister who pushed the stroller around the course. Her sister had read about the walk, and encouraged Karyn to participate.  A fun and important activity to do together before her sister moved out of the area.

As the chairperson of the walk, I made an effort to meet participants, especially survivors. There was another young survivor, Melissa, who had just finished treatments and attended the walk with an entourage of family and friends. Sadly, Melissa passed away a few months after the walk. I was glad to hear from Karyn two years later that she was doing well except for the terrible pain in her tooth.  Although she had medical insurance, it would not cover the cost of dental work she needed as a result of having oral cancer. Without dental insurance, she didn’t know where to turn.

Here was her note:

Hi Eva, I don’t know if you remember me but we met at the oral cancer walk two years ago. I was wondering if you could help me. I have been having bad pains in my tooth. I had a root canal before the radiation but because I didn’t have dental insurance, they decided to wait on putting the permanent cap on. My mouth has been a mess since the radiation, but lately there has been this severe pain. Can you recommend someone to help that would understand my situation? I’m not sure who to go to. Thank you for any help you can provide, Karyn.

I sent out a private email to 31 dentists in the local area that I had become acquainted with over the years through my work raising awareness about oral cancer.

Here was my email:

Dear Dentist Friends,

I was recently contacted by a local oral cancer survivor who does not have dental insurance but needs help with some issues she is having with her tooth. She is about 30 years old and works as a waitress at the Sunset Grille in Allentown. I met her two years ago at the Oral Cancer Awareness Walk. I’m hoping someone will step forward and help this young woman who doesn’t know where to turn for help.

Perhaps, in exchange for your service, she will provide a promotional piece for the newspaper. News outlets love stories of people who do good for others.  Pay it forward!

Please contact her directly. Thank you for your consideration and best wishes for a Happy New Year!   ~Eva

I am happy to report that 3 dentists stepped forward and offered free services.  First, she will see a general dentist for an evaluation of the situation. She got an offer from an oral surgeon if she needs an extraction. She is in good hands now.

I’m convinced that what goes around, comes around. The gratification that comes with helping others is invaluable. Also, their patients, family and friends will have a new-found respect for them after hearing about their offer to help someone in need. They will be leaving a legacy to many about how to live life and make it meaningful.


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