6000 women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer in North Carolina alone. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, more than 40,000 deaths will occur from breast cancer this year.
12 years ago, Dr. Olya Banchik of Waxhaw received the news that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Banchik said that her family’s battle with this devastating disease forced them, like so many others, into a state of helplessness. At a time when it would be easy to resign to fear and sadness, Dr. Banchik decided instead that it was time to help all of those who may feel helpless or afraid.
Dr. Banchik and her husband, Dr. Leon Banchik, as experienced dentists, knew that they possessed a skill-set that could be put to great use. According to cancer.gov, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, two of the most common cancer treatments, may cause dangerous changes in the lining of the mouth and the salivary glands by stopping the growth of the fast growing cells of the mouth, it can also upset the healthy balance of bacteria that is so important to overall oral health. These changes may, and often do, lead to mouth sores, infections, and tooth decay. These problems, if left untreated, can evolve into even more serious issues, especially in patients suffering from immune deficiency.
With the knowledge of how cancer and cancer treatment impact oral health and with the knowledge of the lack of dental insurance in many healthcare plans, the Banchiks made an important and generous decision that would impact the lives of many that that have been affected by breast cancer
In 2007, the Banchiks started the Smiles for Survivors Foundation, a non-profit group of dentists and dental specialists that offers restorative services completely free of charge to qualified breast cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment. These services allow for patients to eat without pain and discomfort and to smile with confidence. The services offered by Smiles for Survivors also help patients to follow their chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments to completion as oral health issues are often a major cause for patients to decide to discontinue treatment.
The dentists and dental specialists that work with Smiles for Survivors receive no compensation for their generous services and the organization accepts no donations. If you or anyone that you know have been affected by breast cancer and have undergone chemotherapy treatment, please reach out to Dr. Banchik at Reafield Dental at 900-300-5999 or visit http://www.smilesforsurvivors.org/apply for more information.
Reafield Dental and the Smiles for Survivors Foundation rely on volunteers for all of the services provided. If you are a dentist or dental specialist you are encouraged to reach out to Dr. Banchik as well to see how your knowledge and expertise can serve a higher purpose.
A special thanks goes out from the Waxhaw community to all of those involved with Smiles for Survivors for the wonderful work that you do.