A routine trip to the dentist became life-altering for a Washington girl last year when her dentist detected a tumor in her jaw

By Maria Pasquini
March 07, 2019 02:33 PM
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Visiting the dentist isn’t just good for your oral health — it could save your life.

During a routine check-up last year, Dr. Harlyn Susarla, ordered a panoramic X-ray for Hunter Rose Jones, then 4, when she noticed the child had several loose teeth, which was unusual for her age, ABC affiliate KOMO News reported. The Washington-based dentist then discovered a tumor growing in the child’s jaw.

“I was freaked out,” the girl’s mother, Kara Jones, told the outlet. “I was at the dentist. You don’t — tumor? No.”

That September, Hunter began treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that often starts in the abdominal area, according to the Everett Herald.

Hunter’s father told KOMO News that doctors also found a tumor in their daughter’s abdomen, where the cancer had originated, and that it had “spread to her hip as well.”

Over the next 140 days, Hunter underwent a variety of treatments at the hospital, including two tumor removals, five rounds of chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, according to KOMO News.

Although the aggressive treatment has caused Hunter hearing loss, she is now cancer-free.

“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 and the treatment that she needed,” Dr. Susarla told KOMO News. “Honestly, I probably think about her every day.”

Although Hunter is currently in remission, her family has created a GoFundMe to help raise funds for her continuing treatment, which could include a possible 12-month trial in New York City.

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Eighteen months after her life-changing visit to the dentist, Hunter and her family returned to thank Dr. Susarla, who presented Hunter with her own certificate, naming the child as an honorary member of the “cavity-free club.

“I’m so thankful for you,” Hunter’s mother said during the visit, according to KOMO News. “You saved our daughter’s life.”