A 5-year-old girl is currently in remission after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer that was detected during a routine dental exam when she was 4 years old.
In the fall of 2017, 4-year-old Hunter Rose Jones went with her mom to see her pediatric dentist, Dr. Harlyn Susarla.
Susarla noticed several loose teeth in Hunter’s mouth, which was unusual for her young age, and ordered an x-ray of the girl’s mouth to find out why.
Susarla noticed a mass that was growing in Hunter’s jaw, the first sign that cancer was growing inside her small body.
“I was freaked out,” Hunter’s mother Kara Jones told KOMO/CNN. “I was at the dentist. You don’t – tumor? No.”
After a visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Hunter was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that originated in her abdomen and spread to her hip.
Hunter spent the next 18 months enduring painful, aggressive treatments, including five rounds of chemotherapy, two tumor removals and two stem cell transplants. Her treatments also took some of her hearing, and Hunter now wears hearing aids.
For the time being, Hunter is cancer-free, but her family knows her status could change at any moment.
In an effort to give their daughter every chance for survival, Hunter will travel to New York with her parents to participate in a cancer vaccine trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Inside Edition reported.
“As of right now, she’s cancer-free, but we have to have five years of being cancer free,” Hunter’s father Jay Jones said.
In celebration of her remission, Hunter and her family returned to the dental office to personally thank Susarla for detecting Hunter’s cancer before it was too late.
“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,” Susarla said. “Honestly, I probably think about her every day.”
Chances are, the Jones family thinks about her often as well.
“I’m so thankful for you,” Kara Jones told Susarla. “You saved our daughter’s life.”
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