About a week out from surgery and I am pleased to report that Andre is doing well. Recovery has not been without a few bumps…he is still in some significant pain and of course, currently has no teeth. Pudding and applesauce are the foods he can eat but remember, that’s not much of a change from before EXCEPT that he is eating those foods knowing a juicy steak dinner really isn’t too far off.
So where does Andre go from here?
On Friday Andre, Keisha and I will return for a post-surgery exam to determine how his mouth is healing. Andre continues to take medicine to promote recovery and ward off bone infection, and will do so for several months. We will discuss with Dr. Brahim how likely it is that Andre will ever be a candidate for implants or if dentures are a better option.
Then we will begin what could be the most challenging issue to navigate- connecting Andre to foundations that can assist with prosthetic costs. There is little out there for oral cancer survivors, even those with fantastic insurance. I will turn to some expert social workers in this area that I know through my memberships in the local chapter and national list serve of the Association of Oncology Social Workers.
In addition, I will be working closely with Andre to develop career goals. We will collaborate with community agencies like the Center for Urban Families and Catholic Charities re-entry services at Our Daily Bread Employment Center. Andre enjoys working outside and in construction. He deserves the chance to get back to “the real world,” earning an income to help support his family, obtaining some decent health insurance and setting an example for his children.
My goals and actions are motivated by my desire to see Andre happy and truly moving forward in his cancer survivorship, because I am a nice person and I like to see people do well. I have had this chance myself and do feel the responsibility to pay it forward. Most importantly, perhaps, I know that steady employment and a career will directly and indirectly impact Andre’s chances for success in cancer survivorship and in life. With a job comes (hopefully) health insurance that will make follow-up care and issues much easier to navigate. In addition, it promotes a sense of self efficacy that will correlate directly to Andre’s compliance with long-term follow-up.
Finally, this family deserves to have some plain old fun TOGETHER. They have been through so much; his youngest daughter, 6 years old, has lived her whole life knowing her father as a very brave but sick or suffering young man. That has particular resonance to me being the parent of a six year old myself. Keisha deserves several all day trips to the salon and I have an image of all of them in Disney Word…it may be the Chuck E. Cheese or Medieval Times instead but it will be something! As we move into the holiday season and the Ulman Fund begins our annual gift donation drive (more information on this to come from Sarah on Friday), I hope all readers of this blog will keep the Coleman Family in mind.