The 3rd Arizona Oral Cancer Walk was held on Saturday, April 21. The walk was the brainchild of Terrence Yu, DDS, a dentist at the Phoenix Rehabilitation Hospital, who thought it would be a good opportunity for collaboration between the students and faculty from Arizona’s two dental schools, the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona.

The key organizer of the 2012 walk was Mai-Ly Duong, a 4th-year student at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. Mai-Ly had organized the Arizona Hepatitis Walk in 2004, and she put her prior experience to good use. Mai-Ly somehow found time to organize the event despite the fact that she had her dental licensing exam less than three weeks after the walk.

When asked why she went to the trouble to involve herself in the walk when she was so busy preparing for her exam and graduation, she said, “I think it’s important to help make people aware that oral cancer often strikes people with no obvious risk factors for the disease.” As an example, she said, at the walk she met a 19-year-old woman who was recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma even though she doesn’t use tobacco or drink alcohol and has no history of cancer in her family.

Over 170 people attended the event at Scottsdale’s El Dorado Park. Guest speakers included Kevin James, an oral cancer survivor who was diagnosed with the disease 18 years ago, and Dr. Dale Davis, a dentist whose mother and son are both oral cancer survivors.

Sponsors included the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation, the Arizona Academy of General Dentistry, GlaxoSmithKline, Patterson Dental, Scottsdale Healthcare and the Oral Cancer Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of these sponsors, the 170 participants and their supporters—not to mention the organizational skills of Mai-Ly Duong—a total of nearly $5,000 was donated to the Oral Cancer Foundation.