Cancer survivor battling depression after losing teeth to medication
A Halifax cancer survivor says she has lost all of her teeth as a result of the medication she is taking, and that has left her severely depressed.
Sheri Hendsbee says she won’t leave her home, and the only person she is comfortable being around is her sister.
“My teeth just literally fell apart on me. Pieces would fall out in my hand, in my mouth.”
Hendsbee battled and beat thyroid cancer 20 years ago, but she got sick again about a year ago.
“It was awful. The pain was just like, oh I didn’t know what I’d do most days, just a toothache around the clock,” she says.
The pain is now gone, but Hendsbee says it has been replaced with something much worse – severe depression.
“I find it very hard just to function every day.”
Doctors have told Hendsbee the issues with her teeth are a result of the medication she takes.
“Reduction of saliva, increased general pH in the mouth, demineralization of teeth, more susceptible to all the microbacteria that causes decay,” says Dr. Stuart Richardson, who makes prosthesis for cancer and other trauma patients.
Hendsbee’s family says she can’t afford dentures and Medicare won’t cover the costs.
Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of health says the funding availability isn’t likely to change because the province is already having a hard time meeting current healthcare requirements.
“The federal government is changing its funding for healthcare, so it’s difficult to add new things at this time,” says Nova Scotia Deputy Health Minister Dr. Peter Vaughan.
Hendsbee’s sister says it is difficult to watch her sister struggle every day.
“I don’t’ believe something should be covered, something like that, through our healthcare if it’s just cosmetics,” says Krista Hendsbee. “But when it’s medically related, I totally agree it should be, and there’s literally no help out there.”
Hendsbee says she has exhausted all her options, and as a single parent who has been on disability for a number of years, she simply can’t afford dentures.
She says her cancer hasn’t only taken away her teeth, but also her dignity and quality of life.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell