Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Peeps, we got a job to do here.

Some of you know Mary Osheskie, or read her blog The Bright Optimist.

Mary was one of the first people to contact me privately after I got my cancer diagnosis. She was also the only other oral cancer patient who was a woman and about my age. Her story makes mine look like a walk in the proverbial park:

Mary's a lifelong nonsmoker and nondrinker, so when she was diagnosed with stage III squamous cell carcinoma of her tongue (at an age about forty years younger than is typical, no less) it was a huge shock. She had a partial glossectomy--in other words, the docs took out half her tongue and replaced it with muscle from her arm.

Then she had head-and-neck radiation. Y'all remember how scared I was of radiation. Everything that terrified me, from a tracheostomy to losing every tooth and a bunch of bone, happened to Mary. All of her teeth are gone, her jawbone is jacked beyond recognition in several places, and--as if all that weren't enough--she had a recurrance of the cancer recently and had to have *more* tongue cut out. Luckily, she's fine now, but she still ain't got no teeth.

Now, for your average toothless person, that isn't a problem. You go to the dentist or prosthodontist, you get some implants or some dentures, and you're back to eating apples in a couple of weeks.

Mary's got a different set of troubles. She's got to have posts put into her jaw to hold specially-made dentures in place, because her jawbone alone won't take the stress of the dentures. Plus, most of the bone that's left (after surgeries to remove the dead stuff) is really, really freaking fragile. And of course, after radiation, she's not capable of healing as well as somebody who hasn't been fried.

In short, she has to have an oral surgeon do both the preliminary post-setting and the molding of the dentures, as well as follow her afterwards to make sure there's not further tissue death or infection. It's a big fucking deal.

It's such a big fucking deal that the surgery alone was going to cost $45,000 (US) and not be covered by Medicaid. Mary's on Medicaid because, after having a feeding tube and a trach and a zillion rounds of radiation and hyperbaric dives, she was indigent and disabled.

BUT!! Mary got the news today that her state Medicaid board is going to cover her surgery. She's going to be able to get the posts put in and things ready for a set of dentures. They're even going to cover anesthetic--which, if you read her blog, was not the case for having ALL OF HER TEETH EXTRACTED HOLY SHIT.

So Mary's getting her bone spicules filed down and her posts put in. But she still needs dentures.

She's a thirty-something woman with no teeth right now, and I'd like to help her make that not be the case.

Let me remind you of what you've done in the past: You gave more than eight hundred dollars to the Oral Cancer Foundation, which is run out of the founder's living room, for research and awareness. You gave Tashi Pratt-King a thousand bucks when it looked like she and Kevin (Wash) would lose their home--you guys got her over the hump, and allowed her to keep taking care of Wash until his death this past September. You also bought two Therabites for people with oral cancer who couldn't have afforded them on their own--devices that allowed people to regain the ability to open their mouths more than a few millimeters. Those Therabites, by the way, are still being sanitized and passed around.

And you made me very, very proud and grateful in the process.

Mary needs twenty thousand dollars for dentures. Medicaid won't cover them. Let's do this thing.

Let's commence Operation: Choppers.

Give Forward Fundraiser

Indiegogo Fundraiser

There is also a PayPal link on Mary's blog, linked above.

Thank you, guys.

10 comments:

Comrade Physioprof said...

Just donated to your friend.

Cr0w$c@lling said...

Sweet! Jo's Army

Chris said...

Money is on its way......

Moose said...

I wish I could help, but I'm struggling with my own healthcare costs right now.

I can, however, keep her in my thoughts, as I keep you.

Geri said...

I donated to her a little while ago. I've been keeping an eye on her blog since the first time you featured Mary.

FrankC said...

Week's worth of cigarette money sent to Mary.
Doesn't mean I'm cutting down. Kof,kof.

Nursing Job said...

This is so heart-warming, will donate to your friend when I got my salary, will tell this story to friends too! Help is on its way ;)

Tommiegirl Granlund said...

You and Tashi rock in ways I can't even try to explain to anyone who doesn't read this blog...

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - I'm a nursing student and get so much out of it. Thanks for raising awareness as well as making us laugh. I was online shopping for an extra scrub top for my clinical - but I'll wash mine more often - and will send Mary the $$ instead!

Lynda Otvos said...

OK, Jo, as you requested Operation Choppers is under way and we are headed toward new teeth for a thirty year old woman. I love you.