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The importance of oral care during cancer treatments, good intentions, and "When Helping Hurts"

The importance of oral care during cancer treatments, good intentions, and "When Helping Hurts"

Authored by Jill Meyer-Lippert

I participated in a medical/dental mission trip in the remote mountain village of Jean Rabel, Haiti, in 2012. Before we left, the organizers requested that each member of the team read the book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

The premise of the book focuses on the goal of giving people a hand-up rather than a handout, and the importance of providing those in need with resources that will continue to improve their conditions long after the missionaries leave. The book provides many examples of ways that good intentions actually keep the people intended to receive help in a cycle of long-term harm.

A surprising lack of resources

The information hit home for me in unexpected ways. Early in my long career as a registered dental hygienist, I was a caregiver for family members who had cancer. As I witnessed the side effects of chemotherapy such as dry mouth and mouth sores, I was frustrated with the lack of resources to help alleviate these problems.

I made it my mission to find answers but found that information was scarce even for health-care providers. I learned that some of these oral side effects not only increase risks of pain and infection during treatment but can result in long-term damage to oral health, which negatively impacts physical, emotional, and financial quality of life.

Read the rest of the story in RDH magazine HERE

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