What makes The Dakota Head and Neck Cancer Foundation so special is the people. Our board is made up of individuals who are dedicated to the cause and its patients. Dr. Terrell and Amy Schmidt have worked with many head and neck cancer patients over the years. In the month of April the DHNCF team had the opportunity to sit done with some of Dr. Terrell and Amy Schmidt's former patients and discuss their experiences.
Our first patient is Janel from Grand Forks, North Dakota. Janel is 58 and lives with her husband of 20 years.They enjoy gardening in the spring and summer as well as going to their cabin.
The first question we asked Janel was "How did you come into contact with Dr. Terrell and the Dakota Head and Neck Cancer Foundation?"
Janel informed us that she met Dr. Terrell when she started to have mouth pain that ended up being a result of her cancer. Dr. Terrell performed her surgery in Sioux Falls, SD and Amy was the nurse that walked them through the treatment process.
We then asked Janel "How were you original diagnosis?"
Janel was diagnosed in the Fall of 2016. She went into the Doctor because she had a loose tooth that was bothering her, they discovered an infection and ordered a biopsy. The biopsy revealed it was cancer and that she would need surgery. During surgery they removed her jaw but were able to replace it with bones from her leg. Janel said "It's amazing what they (doctors) can do, people can’t even really tell the difference". Janel says her life has changed since her diagnosis but not as much as she had thought that it would. There are certain foods she can't each anymore and her jaw sometimes gets sore as the day goes on. Though overall she feels very lucky and thankful for what the doctors and God were able to do. She said "My experience (with cancer), makes me appreciate life a lot more. In a way it de-stressed my life".
Finally we asked Janel “What would you like to tell people who are battling head and neck cancer?”
Janel said to “Put faith in the doctor’s hands and find the answers”. She also mentioned the importance of a positive attitude. With that Janel reported that surgery can be a long process but you will be amazed at what the doctors are able to do.
Janel’s last comment to us what that she absolutely loved Dr. Terrell and that even know she knows he must have hundreds of patients he makes each of them feel like they are the only one.
It is these kind of stories and connections that make Dakota Head and Neck Cancer Foundation such a worthy cause.
Keep checking in on our blogs for more patient stories and updates on DHNCF.