VERO BEACH, Fla. - A loving daughter, doing her best to stay strong for her mother.
"It's hard.It's really hard," said Ashley Matteo.
In 2008, Denise Matteo,50, made a trip to the dentist for what she thought was a toothache. The diagnosis was Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, an oral cancer. The diagnosis came on the heels of a devastating divorce from her husband. The single mother of two struggled with breaking the news to her kids.
"We lost our home, we lost everything. So as a parent it was horrible and coming home with that prognosis from my doctor and trying to figure out how I was going to tell the two of them the worst thing I had to do," Denise said.
The cancer deteriorated nearly half of her face. On the operating table, doctors removed a tumor the size of a baseball. Denise was cancer free..but hardly recognizable.
"My fear was that she was going to wake up and the first thing she was going to want to do was look in the mirror, but not know everything that really happened while she was asleep," said her daughter Ashley Matteo.
Nearly all of her top teeth were removed. Two were left for chewing. Muscle tissue was taken from her leg and thigh to reconstruct her face. Radiation shrunk her right eye. Now, she faces strange looks and ridicule. And before she could heal a staph infection set in behind her eye.
Denise needs another operation to cure the infection and reconstruct her face, but her health insurance has run out.
"Just when things were getting better...something happens and kind of sets it back and now I feel helpless and I just want to do something to help," said her daughter Ashley.
To make a donation for Denise's surgeries:
--Go to https://www.wachovia.com/ and click “Locations” in the top right corner of the page.
--Call Wachovia Bank at (800) 922-4684. If you are not an account holder, immediately push *0 (star zero) repeatedly to speak to a customer service rep.
--Mail a contribution to: ATTN: Bank By Mail, MACR 3455-01K, Wachovia Bank, P.O. BOX 26090, Richmond, VA 23260-6090. Put her name and trust fund number on the check and include a note with the same information - Wachovia: Denise Matteo Trust Account No. 1010279531700
You can also visit CaringBridge.org to make a donation.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W . Scripps Company and Angie's List