You’ve probably heard of the American Cancer Society, maybe you’ve even participated in their Relay for Life, but you may not be entirely sure of what it is they do. Many people know the American Cancer Society for their research — and rightly so — because they’re the largest nongovernmental funder of cancer research in the United States. They fund young researchers, with cutting-edge ideas, early in their careers; 47 of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, one of the highest accolades in scientific achievement.

The research and scientific contributions of the American Cancer Society are astounding, but they do so much more than that to attack cancer from every angle. In addition to their groundbreaking research, innovations, and preventative programs, the American Cancer Society assists those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to adequate and affordable treatment. The ACS works with elected officials and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels who make decisions that affect the lives of more than 11 million cancer patients and survivors, their families and caregivers, and all those at risk for developing cancer. They also have an incredible range of programs to provide support and help anyone who has been affected by cancer no matter where they are in their journey. Those programs include everything from rides to treatment facilities, support groups, lodging, hair loss and mastectomy product, and our own Smiles for Life Award.

We created the Smiles for Life Award in partnership with the American Cancer Society in 2014 to rehabilitate the mouths of cancer survivors. Cancer treatments come with many more side effects than hair loss and fatigue; patients often experience dry mouth, rampant decay, and tooth loss, which creates both functional and aesthetic issues.

We believe people who have made it through cancer deserve to feel good about their smiles and get their pre-cancer oral health back. That’s why we donate a $25,000 cosmetic makeover to one cancer survivor every year. Potential candidates are nominated by local physicians and the selected recipient is chosen based on need. By documenting and revealing this transformational process through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, the award showcases the healing power of a smile makeover and celebrates survivorship.

We’ve had the pleasure of giving this cosmetic makeover to 4 cancer survivors so far, and the 2 most recent recipients, Maureen Coleman and Evelyn Nitting, shared their stories in the video below. Evelyn battled breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy. She was told that she may have some dental issues and sure enough, she did. It started with dry mouth but progressed to her teeth fracturing, which caused pain and an inability to chew properly. She had defeated cancer, but she was left with these new issues.

Evelyn was an amazing patient and it took several visits over many months to regenerate bone, add dental implants, and do an entire cosmetic makeover. The smile on her face when she finally got to see her new smile is why we love providing the Smiles for Life Award. It took months, but we were able to restore Evelyn’s mouth back to health and it’s great to see her smiling again!

Our goal is to restore these recipients mouths back to health, not just for self-confidence, but for oral betterment and to celebrate survivorship. It doesn’t matter how much work it requires or how complicated it is, we take them from where they are, back to optimal oral health. We want them to give other cancer patients hope and show them that there is a life after treatment.

Our Smiles for Life recipients often ask why we’re providing this $25,000 cosmetic makeover and we ask, “Wouldn’t you do the same if you could?”. Our company is in a position to give back so we think it is important to do so.

We’re honored to be able to provide the Smiles for Life award every year in partnership with the American Cancer Society.