LIMA — In December, 15-year-old Craig Hickman thought he might be able to get his braces off early.
But his aunt, Tara Hummer, said the football loving, video gaming, Duck Dynasty watcher, was in for much more.
Because, during routine X-rays, doctors saw a shadow in his jaw. To be safe, Hickman was sent to a local surgeon.
After another X-ray, it was discovered he was missing most of his jaw. Most likely, it was smeloblastoma. But he’d have to go to a specialist at OSU hospital in Columbus to confirm.
Ameloblastoma is a rare, benign tumor that is most commonly found in the face or jaw. It typically develops near the molars and in cells that form protective enamel lining your teeth. It can be very aggressive and cause much pain and swelling.
A biopsy was conducted by Jan. 14 and on Jan. 26, it was confirmed, Craig had ameloblastoma. It had been developing for more than a year. Luckily, the doctor had put in a drain earlier, which helped remedy part of the problem.
Still, the Hickmans have a long road to go in treating the cyst and hopefully, waiting for the jaw to replace itself naturally. If it doesn’t, Craig will have to undergo major reconstructive surgery. The process will require more than a year of hospital visits.
In the meantime, Craig can’t have any hard foods and must be extremely cautious. Even a small accidental bump from a 6-year-old cousin could shatter his entire jaw.
These treatments don’t come cheap either. Though the family has medical insurance, the doctor treating Craig’s jaw is outside their coverage network.
“We are usually too proud,” said Craig’s mom, Jennifer Hickman. “We don’t want help but we’re thinking we’re really going to need it.”
Its a lucky thing, she said, that she and her husband, Jeff, agreed to home-school their sons a few years ago. Otherwise, the family could’ve discovered the cyst in a much more devastating way, say a fly-ball in gym class.
“Things happen for a reason,” she said. “I guess we’re finding out that reason.”