Imagine losing the ability to talk, eat, or swallow food. That was the painful reality that Violetta Pernsley, 64, of Romansville, Pa., had to live with for nearly a year. Oral cancer caused her to lose the entire roof of her mouth, including her teeth. Due to the cancer, there was nothing above her tongue up to her nasal passage.
After reconstructive surgery failed, Pernsley, who is a widow, was desperate for an artificial mouth plate that would cover the hole and give her new teeth, a process that costs $30,000. Despite her desperation, Pernsley says her medical and dental insurers refused to pay, calling it a cosmetic procedure.
That’s when the staff at local oral surgeon Peter Famiglio decided to step in, volunteering to come in on their day off. Famiglio even got a local dental lab to donate $5,000 worth of material.
“She’s a hardworking woman who has had the same job for many, many years, has “great” insurance but was caught in a trap here,” said Dr. Famiglio.
Pernsley’s reaction to the news brought Famiglio's entire office to tears.
“When I got the phone call that they were going to do this, all I could say was thank you for being earthly angels,” said Pernsley.
Pernsley underwent her surgery on Monday. While she has regained the ability to eat, Pernsley is most looking forward to something else; being able to talk to her two daughters for the first time in nearly a year.