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OneWorld patient’s tumor identified during routine dental oral cancer screening

When OneWorld dental patient, Anne, sat down in her chair in exam room six at OneWorld Northwest, she expected a routine dental checkup. What she didn’t expect was her dentist, Dr. Abby Locke, to find a lump in her neck during her oral cancer screening.

“Dr. Locke came in to take a look at my teeth after my cleaning, and then she started checking my chin and neck,” said Anne. “While she was explaining what she was doing, she paused and said, ‘Hm, there’s a bump here.’”

Both Dr. Locke and Dental Hygienist, Cori Garrett, RDH, felt the size, shape and firmness of the lump and had Cristina Pachon, DDA, Dental Assistant II, take a look. Dr. Locke and Cori gave Anne a referral and stressed to Anne the important of talking to her doctor.

Anne said when she showed her doctor the lump, he immediately had another doctor take a look at it. She scheduled a follow-up appointment and completed a thyroid blood panel.

Her blood work came back normal, so Anne was sent to see Dr. Oleg Militsakh at the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. Dr. Militsakh showed Anne the mass on an ultrasound, which revealed she had a tumor growing off her thyroid.

“He explained to me that this is common in women, and I don’t need to be overly concerned, which was a relief,” said Anne. “My surgery to remove the thyroid lobe with the tumor is in October, and that’s when they’ll confirm what type of tumor it is. They are now monitoring the other side as well.”

When Dr. Locke found the lump, Anne said Cori gave her personal phone number and asked Anne to update her as soon as she could. Anne said this gesture meant a lot.

“For Cori to show such concern, that brought me to tears,” said Anne.

Throughout the process, Cori has kept in touch with Anne via phone calls and texts to get updates on Anne’s medical status to pass to Dr. Locke and to check on Anne’s emotional well-being.

The OneWorld dental team said they are relieved Anne is being treated and will have surgery soon.

“I’m so happy she is going to be okay,” said Cristina. “She is the greatest patient and she cares for all of us like we care for her.”

Anne has been a OneWorld dental patient for five years. She recently moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, but continues to come back to the Northwest clinic for her regular appointments.

“We’ve known Anne for a long time, and she is one of the greatest people I know,” said Nyabuony Chany, CDA, Dental Assistant II. “Her personality lights up the room, and she brings out the best in everyone. We are so grateful for her.”

Anne said she is thankful for Dr. Locke for finding the tumor and said the team has been instrumental in her journey to restore her oral health.

“I’m an Air Force kid, so I was raised with every walk of life,” said Anne. “I love the diversity in this office, and getting to know everyone’s story. I have really gotten to know everyone and they take great care of me. Being here is like being home.”

At OneWorld, We Care for All People.

Anne with Dr. Abby Locke.

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