Remembering Uncle Dennis DENTAL HYGIENIST EVELYN LAI SHARES HER FAMILY’S CANCER STORY
WOO’S NEWS APRIL 2020 mybestdentalcare.com
M y uncle, Dennis Chang, was the kind of uncle every kid wants. Since he was the youngest of all his siblings, he acted as the bridge between the next
next day. I spent a few hours by his side with my family before they convinced me that it was best that I go home that night. I relented, said goodbye, and went home.
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My uncle Dennis died that night.
generation — my cousins and me — and his: my mom and her siblings. He never failed to make us feel understood, and he supported each of us in everything we set our minds to. He was a role model for several people in my family, and to this day, whenever something reminds us of him, we can’t help but smile and share stories of Uncle Dennis.
It’s crazy to think it’s been 15 years since we lost Dennis, but today, as a dental hygienist, I have had a unique opportunity to assist in the prevention and early detection of cancer diagnoses. As dental professionals, we’re often searching for signs of oral cancer, and that’s not a duty I take lightly. We look at the tissues in the cheek and tongue, often using a VELscope light to highlight troublesome areas. Cancer is never easy. It sucks no matter what kind it is, and watching a family member go through the diagnosis and treatment is very difficult. But our loving team at Woo Wang Dental is here to support you and your family along your cancer journey. I’m proud to do it, especially when I can help families like mine find peace. Even today, there are certain things that remind me of my uncle. I’ve loved watching his kids grow up, and it’s been truly amazing to see their personalities take on some of their dad’s traits. I also cherished the guitar he once gave me. Uncle Dennis fixed it up for me and encouraged me to learn, but I never did pick up the skill. Still, I always treasured that keepsake, and it turns out his son does have some musical talent. So, I gave the guitar to my cousin. I was happy to have kept it all these years and thankful I could give my cousin a connection to his father.
Dennis passed away in 2005 at the age of 42 after a courageous battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since April happens to be National Cancer Control Month, I can’t think of a more fitting topic to write about than my uncle’s selfless nature and the tough road he faced. When Dennis died, he was fighting cancer for the second time in his life. Dennis beat his cancer once, and to celebrate, the whole family went to Cancun! It was a special time for all of us. When he was diagnosed again, his prognosis was grim. I would often visit Uncle Dennis in the hospital when I was in college. Even if he was sedated, I’d sit with him, do my homework, and spend time with his family. At the time, his kids were still pretty young. There are a few key moments during my uncle’s second round of cancer that I can vividly recall. I remember being the only one in the room when
he woke up one day, and even though he never really lost that spark that made him everyone’s favorite uncle, I didn’t know what to say. I just remember telling him it was all going to be okay.
Ironically, our family has very few pictures of Dennis. He was always the man behind the camera, snapping photos and videotaping our adventures. In a way, it makes sense. He was the root of so much joy for our family for so long, and the photos and videos he took are proof of that.
Another time, something was telling me to go see my uncle, even though I had class the
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