by Travis Sprague
(Central Point, Oregon, United States)
I was diagnosed with cancer for the 2nd time when I was 17. I underwent surgery on June 18th, 1998 to remove 2 very large tumors in my throat. Shortly after my surgery, I underwent radiation treatment. Not just any radiation treatment, the highest dose medically allowed. This was before they realized the danger involved with this high of dose. I made it through the treatment in record time.
After recovery, I still wasn’t positive about my future. About 2 months after all this occurred, I found out that my girlfriend at the time was pregnant. I was going to be a father at 18 and didn’t think that I would live long enough to see her grow up. I was young and had nothing to lose. I decided it was best for my now new born daughter, to not be there just to lose me. 4 years later, I let my now ex girlfriend’s husband adopt her, so that she would always have a father. The hardest thing that I ever had to do. It was best for her.
Well, I have survived the next 12 years. However my teeth have not. Despite brushing every day, twice a day, my teeth have decayed, and broken. I have gum disease. I had a tooth shatter (not break, shatter)while eating a pastrami sandwich.
I get tooth infections regularly, and I have lived almost everyday of the last 5 years in some kind of mouth pain. I now have a new son, and another daughter on the way in April.
It is Christmas Eve and I am sitting here in pain, because I just had another tooth pulled because of a broken tooth and massive tooth infection.
I cant sleep, and I need to because I am the president of a charity foundation that prepares a traditional holiday meal for the entire community. We give gifts to all the children who walk through the doors and we do not turn anyone away. The only gift that I want for Christmas, is to be able to smile and live pain free, for the first time since I can remember.