This husband and wife dentist team wants to get the word out about oral cancer.
Morris Park dentists Barry and Annie Kramer recently started a non-profit organization called Kicking Oral Cancer to raise awareness about the disease, which affects thouands of of people annually.
Inspired by patient
The idea for the foundation was inspired more than 10 years ago during a routine check-up when Barry Kramer noticed a spot the size of a nail-head on a patient’s x-ray. Follow up revealed the 21-year-old patient had osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. He lost half his bottom jaw and 13 teeth, but is thankfully still alive today.
Since then, the Kramers, who’ve been practicing dentistry for 25 years, have been searching for ways to raise awareness of various types of oral cancer.
“I’ve always wanted to tell his story,” Barry Kramer said of the young patient.
Oral cancer affects more than 40,000 Americans a year, and every hour someone dies from oral cancer, he noted, with smoking and chewing tobacco major causes of the disease, which often first appears as a white raised bump or lesion.
Barry Kramer is also a Dentist of Distinction for the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy, which promotes dental health for kids.
Kicking Oral Cancer’s first event will combine both organizations’ missions on May 16 in Co-op City, where they will provide free dental checkups for 75 children and oral cancer screenings for their parents at the AllCare Provider Service’s Learning Ladder Day Care Center.
“Nobody likes to come to the dentist,” said Barry Kramer, but with the free dental screening for children and simple oral cancer checkup for a parent, “It’s killing two birds with one stone.”
Dr. Annie Kramer said that the couple hopes to get other dentists and organizations involved, and eventually donate money towards research. But for now, they’re starting with getting the word out.
“It’s just about awareness,” said Barry Kramer.
He said he hopes that through the free screenings they can save another life by discovering cancer early enough.
“It feels good to give back,” said Annie Kramer. “It’s important.”
The Kramers said they decided to name the non-profit Kicking Oral Cancer, with a soccer theme, to get their 17-year-old son Bennett involved in the family cause. They say they’re hoping to partner with the New York City Football Club in order to reach more people and expand their events. But for now, they’re very excited to get the organization off the ground with the first free screenings.