5-year-old Hunter Rose Jones may not have been fortunate enough to be cancer-free today if it had not been for a simple routine dental checkup 18 months ago.
The last time that the youngster went to Stellar Kids Dentistry in Everett, Washington, all seemed normal – except that her dentist, Dr. Harlyn Susarla, thought it was odd that Hunter had several loose teeth at once.
Upon ordering a panoramic X-ray, she was stunned to find a tumor in Hunter’s jaw.
Hunter’s family then took her to Seattle Children’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. Over the course of the next year and a half, Hunter reportedly endured dozens of rounds of radiation, surgeries, and therapy sessions – but throughout it all, the youngster stayed strong.
Susarla’s husband, who is a surgeon at Seattle Children’s hospital, says that if it had not been for his wife’s keen eye, Hunter may not have survived the cancer.
“This is such an aggressive disease process, early recognition and diagnosis is the key, I think, for treatment,” he told KOMO. “I’ve always been proud of my wife. She’s certainly a lot smarter than I am, and this is just one more piece of evidence that suggests that.”
A few weeks ago, Hunter was finally declared cancer-free and she was able to return to the dentist with a homemade thank you card in hand.
Dr. Susarla, however, says that she was simply grateful that she could have a hand in saving the youngster’s life.
“The fact that this was something that was found in the dental chair, I’m grateful that I saw this and that she was able to get the care the treatment that she needed,” said Susarla. “Honestly, I probably think about her every day.”
The dental office is now raising money for the Jones family’s GoFundMe campaign, which will help pay for Hunter’s participation in a clinical trial that will hopefully prevent the cancer’s possible return in the future.
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