No one has to work for free, but it’s always heartwarming to see talented professionals offer up their services to those in need.
That’s what happened earlier this Fall for cancer survivor David Cowart and his family when Dr. Kenny Wilstead, a dentist in Marshall, Texas, stepped up to help him regain his smile.
Wilstead had connected with his future patient over social media after seeing photos of him where he never showed his teeth. He offered up his services, but Cowart, who lives in Georgia, couldn’t find time to take off of work to visit the Texas office.
Then, years later, Cowart’s boss sent him to Wilstead for some dental work on a whim, and the rest is history. In fact, Wilstead set to work on the extreme makeover as a surprise to the cancer survivor and his family.
Cowart suffered from myeloid leukemia and was diagnosed back in 2010. Since then, his teeth had eroded to a state that he thought was beyond repair.
Increasingly embarrassed by the condition of his smile, he used his upper lip to hide the damage, which resulted in what he considered further deformity.
“I don’t leave the house, my upper lip didn’t used to be this long. I hold my lip down the whole time to cover my teeth so it’s made my face look weird.”
He said his teeth had been enough to keep him homebound, aside from going to work, for roughly 4 years.
In a Facebook post, the dentist reported how he pulled off the surprise makeover:
In a heartbreaking video made in the dentist’s office, his son was interviewed about the effect his father’s condition had on the family. Almost unable to respond, the teenager repeatedly broke down in tears. He said lauded his father’s strength, but also his mother’s influence:
“I know that the reason why he’s strong is because my mom.”
And he recognized the pain his father had been through:
“I think he’s stronger than anybody else I know because he has to go through cancer and he has to live with his teeth and I know that it would be nice to…be able to smile and be able to show to the world that he’s more than just cancer.”
Cowart had his teeth repaired, cleaned, and whitened by Dr. Wilstead on October 20th, but the family wasn’t sure what to expect.
Cowart’s son joked: “We were hoping that it wasn’t a scam.” And Cowart affirmed “I never have good luck.”
But luck and a whole lot of generosity was on their side. When Wilstead showed his patient a mirror after the procedure, Cowart couldn’t believe his eyes. In fact, he could barely remember how to smile.
When he looked at his new teeth he immediately got up and hugged the dentist. Gasping and in tears, it was clear that his life was about to change for the better.
“I just feel weird smiling again,” he exclaimed
The proud dentist responded like it was all in a day’s work, telling his patient “You’ve been through enough, buddy.”
Through tears, his son said, “You all gave my dad the chance to actually live.”
David’s proud wife Kimberly has now changed her profile picture on Facebook to a photograph of her smiling husband.
Wilstead’s generosity has now been picked up by international news outlets, to which he responded, “I guess it’s a big deal to help people these days.”
Check out the amazing before and after photos to see just how much of a difference this dentist made in this cancer survivor’s life.
And you can see a video of the whole encounter below.
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