Ross Pratt was taken away from us abruptly, with little warning, little time to say goodbye, and little knowledge of the cancer that would viscously consume him over just 3 months.
By donating to the Oral Cancer Foundation and its research programs, you can help doctors rewrite scripts that include phrases like “we didn’t know”, “we’re surprised at how fast” or “we never imagined”. You can ultimately help write better endings to the stories of those affected by oral cancers; stories that don’t end in cold hospital beds where last days are spent without the ability to savor meals, breathe fresh air, or utter last “I love you”s.
Ross, a gentle and kind man, and unanimously loved by his 3 children, 4 grandchildren, mother, neighbors, friends, and rescue dogs, first noticed a seemingly normal, uninteresting blister on the outside of his mouth mid-April 2022. Within days, the inside of his mouth became swollen and entrenched with sores making it hard to open widely, close tightly, eat, swallow, and talk. After immediately seeking medical attention at the ER and finally getting a first Oncology appointment on April 28, Ross was admitted for a grueling 21-hour facial reconstructive surgery on May 23.
Alarming effects of being under anesthesia for such an extended period of time and acceptance of a newly altered face aside, the surgery was a success. With a new mouth and the cancer removed, Ross spent the next 19 days in the hospital recovering and learning how to talk, use his feeding tube, and sip water – inherent things we all take for granted. On June 11, Ross went home, a monumental occasion just as wonderful as it was uninspiring. On July 21, just 39 days later – none of which included eating meals with his family, tasting his favorite foods, celebrating birthdays, taking rendezvous, or checking items off his bucket list – Ross was back in the hospital. Despite the initial fight, the cancer had already aggressively invaded his cheeks, ears, and throat, consuming everything in between including the little vibrancy Ross had left.
Doctors were astounded at the growth rate of this cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) and though diligent, smart, and attentive, Ross’ doctors shook their heads in great disbelief at the expedited timeline and the unknowns of next steps.
Ross was admitted to Hospice on August 4 and died on August 9, 2022 just short of his 67th birthday.