JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville cancer patient who is now in remission says she finally caught a break. She shared her struggles with First Coast News after losing her teeth during treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer.
A local dental group decided to help Callaway restore her smile.
"Sometimes I would be drinking something or just waking up in the morning and I'm like what is this in my mouth," Callaway said. "And I'm spitting out pieces of my teeth."
The estimates she had received to fix her teeth ranged from $30,000 to $80,000. With the COVID-19 virus running rampant and a weakened immune system, it's not safe for Callaway to go back to work right now.
Four weeks ago, Callaway opened up about her reality as a cancer patient. Her story gained the attention of dental group David and Associates.
"My present assistant that's been with me for years is just finishing chemo for cancer," Dr. Joel David said.
He explained what led to Callaway's teeth decay while undergoing treatment for RMS.
"It's a combination you're feeling ill so you don't feel like taking care of your teeth because of the chemotherapy, and then when you have dry mouth the saliva isn’t washing out the acids produced by plaque," Dr. David said. "It's really easy to get a lot of decay."
"There were so many times since 2018 that I didn't think I was going to make it through that situation," Callaway said.
Diagnosed with RMS in 2018, she underwent aggressive treatments leading to the loss of her hair, weight, job, teeth and self-esteem.
"God doesn't give us more than we truly can bare but sometimes I wish he didn't trust us so much," Callaway said. "It's like can I have a break?"
She received a big break after sharing her story on First Coast News. David and Associates Center for Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry did Callaway's dental work, totaling $34,500 free of charge. That blessing transformed more than just her smile. It restored her confidence.
"I used the mask to cover up so much, and now I'm like I wish we didn't have to wear the mask so everybody could see me," Callaway said with a huge smile on her face. "Listen, I'm just looking in the mirror and no matter how I smile I just love it!"