Girl’s Dentist Spots Symptom of Grapefruit-sized Tumor

surgeryAs it turns out for one family in Edmond, Oklahoma, a routine visit to the dentist can have more benefits than dental hygiene and preventative care—this particular visit saved young Journee Woodard’s life.

During the routine dental visit on a Wednesday in late January, 11-year-old Journee’s dental hygienist, Rachel Stroble, noticed that her eyes had a yellow hue to them. She informed the dentist, Dr. Michael Chandler, who in turn told Journee’s mother Anna and suggested she take Journee to the doctor just in case something was wrong. Upon verifying in stronger light outdoors that Journee’s eyes did in fact look yellow, Anna heeded the dentist’s advice and first thing the following week took Journee to the doctor for testing to locate the root of what might be causing Journee’s jaundice-like symptom. After several medical tests and an MRI, it was determined that Journee had developed a tumor the size of a grapefruit in her pancreas.

Journee went into surgery that Friday at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Oklahoma to have the tumor removed. The tumor turned out not to be cancerous, but doctors still ended up removing parts of the pancreas, liver, small intestine, and stomach, as well as her entire gallbladder as part of the Whipple procedure they needed to perform to restore Journee back to good health. Even without being cancerous, this tumor had the high potential of rupturing, which would have likely been fatal to young Journee. The dentist’s recommendation on having Journee see a doctor, then, came just in time to prevent the worst from happening.

Journee spent a week recovering in the hospital, followed by weeks of recovery time at home hooked up to drains and IVs. The good news is that she is on her way back to good health, and she plans on competing again with her youth girls’ basketball team when she has fully recovered.

And there you have it—one more reason why it’s great to take your kids to the dentist every six months for a checkup.

You can read the full story over at CBS News.