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Capital Area Dental Foundation gives mom with cancer pain-free eating


On Saturday, Deloris Fields and her son, Connor, reached a milestone — Connor’s first birthday and Fields’ 27th.

The day after Connor was born, doctors found that breast cancer from three years before had spread to bones throughout Fields’ body. Yet, she celebrates each day.

“I’m very blessed,” she says. “I’m very thankful. They didn’t think I would see Christmas (last year). I’m so blessed.”

She is filled with joy, but her birthday dinner wasn’t as joyous as it could be. Cancer treatments have badly damaged her teeth. In fact, just before Connor was born, the pain in one tooth was so bad, she had a dentist pull that tooth.

Last week, Fields met with Dr. Kent Macaulay, a dentist who volunteered to treat Fields. He and other Capital Area Dental Foundation dentists are treating 11 people featured in the Statesman Season for Caring program this year.

Season for Caring highlights the needs of 12 local families, who have been nominated by local nonprofit agencies. Donations help the featured families first, and then the agencies are able to use additional funds to help hundreds of other families with basic needs throughout the year. Fields was nominated by Breast Cancer Resource Center.

It’s the sixth year the Capital Area Dental Foundation has matched dentists to Season for Caring families. It has donated about $55,000 in services since 2011. “We feel it is one of the most impactful contributions to our community that we can do,” said foundation board Chairwoman Lyda Creus Molanphy. “We value the commitment of the Austin American-Statesman. … We are honored to be partners with you.”

The gift of dental care is hard to put a monetary figure around, she says. Each case is different. “Part of what makes me so proud is our volunteer dentists always go above and beyond,” Creus Molanphy says. Sometimes just a dental cleaning is needed. Other patients might need a whole-mouth reconstruction involving implants.

Last week, after taking 18 X-rays and looking inside Fields’ mouth, Macaulay determined that he’ll be able to fill eight cavities, build a crown over one tooth and provide a removable appliance that will fill the space where the tooth was pulled.

Fields recently has had a setback in her health. New tumors in her neck and back were discovered that are pressing on her spine. Soon, she will start a new course of radiation, but, before then, Macaulay hopes to start her dental treatment.

Fields says her oncologist has been on her for losing weight, and she now realizes that part of the reason she’s lost weight is it’s so painful to eat. “It’s such a hassle to eat,” she says. “Anything too sweet hurts, everything gets stuck.”

Macaulay knows what cancer and its treatments can do to a body, and not just from treating his patients. He lost his wife in 2011 to breast cancer and now is a valued member of the BCRC board as well as the dental foundation. This is the second year he has treated the BCRC’s Season for Caring family through the foundation.

When Macaulay looked at Fields, he was looking for any signs of infection because cancer treatments weaken the immune system and the acids from nausea damage teeth. Some cancer treatments also have a bone strengthener, which is good, but he has to be careful about what kind of treatment to recommend for fear that the jaw bone is so strong that it could crack easily if he tried to remove a tooth or do an implant.

Fields says her teeth definitely changed after chemotherapy. “They’re so brittle, they’re so sensitive,” she says.

Season for Caring isn’t the only way Macaulay and other foundation members give back to the community. They provide emergency dental care for adults in poverty through St. Vincent de Paul, treat uninsured musicians through the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, go around the state giving elderly and disabled people care through Healthy Smiles for Texans, and do preoperative care for children from developing countries traveling to Austin for heart surgeries with HeartGift.

Soon Fields’ radiant smile will match the health of her teeth.

“You got to smile about it, you got to laugh,” she says about cancer treatments. “I enjoy my time now, even if it’s short. God didn’t promise us longevity, but he did promise us a good life.”

Fields still has many items on her wish list, including a gently used car, car insurance, a first-floor apartment, clothes for Connor, a laptop and a printer. One of the biggest things she’d like is a camera with a tripod and an external hard drive to record memories for Connor to have. Even gift cards would mean so much this Christmas.

To find out more about Fields or to give an item on her wish list, contact Breast Cancer Resource Center, 512-817-9775, bcrc.org.



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