Pass the Cash: Toothache turns out to be cancer

Sarah (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sarah (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Laura (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Laura (Source: WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person is more; More than what they can do and much more than what they look like.

Sarah Shelton wrote me a letter that brought us to Jeffersonville to Pass the Cash.

"I'm from the old school. I like cursive," Sarah said. "That was the best way for me to get in touch with you."

It was the best way for Sarah to tell me about her friend of 20 years Laura.

"She had a toothache. She thought it was abscessed," Sarah said.

It was no toothache.

"She had cancer and her insurance will not pay for reconstructive surgery," Sarah said.

MORE: Pass the Cash

Laura lost the tooth and most of the left side of her face. 

"She has a feeding tube because the radiation damaged her esophagus," Sarah said.

The cancer ravaged her body and her life. Laura does not leave the house often because of the way people look at her.

"She said they stare at here and she just don't like it," Sarah said.

To rebuild her life and her looks will take a lot of surgery and a lot of money to pay the doctor bills.

We had $300 from WAVE 3 News to help for a surgery sure to cost thousands of dollars. We hoped Laura will not be upset by the cameras, but as soon as she saw us she was excited.

"Maybe there's someone in TV land that can even go further and help you so you can go out in the day time and it doesn't matter if people stare 'cause God loves you," Sarah told her before she passed the cash.

Laura has a long road ahead to reconstruct the damage to her face from cancer but it's the damage to her heart and soul that may be even harder to heal. She stays in to avoid the stares she gets from the public.

"It bothers me it does," she said. "People who love me, they love me and to them I know it doesn't matter. I know they don't even notice any more…my family, but sometime when I'm out people stare."

She fought for her life, now Laura is just fighting for a normal life.

"I think people who speak to me on the phone or even who see me think 'oh there's something wrong with her. She's not right,'" Laura said, "I'm all there. It's just that I have this cancer."

Laura has a GoFundMe page under Laura VanCleave. If you would like to donate you can by clicking here.

Since 2011, WAVE 3 News has given away thousands of dollars to worthy recipients in our Pass the Cash segment. Click here to tell us about a Kentuckiana family or individual who you believe deserves a special gift of $300. (Be sure you are registered on You cannot nominate yourself or a family member.

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