Alex Carico, an 8-year-old boy from Lorain County, wants to be a dentist when he grows up—and thanks to Special Wish Cleveland and Crest, he already has some pretty special hands-on experience in the field.
On New Year’s Eve 2019, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
It was discovered after what appeared to be an innocuous accident at school; Alex hit his stomach on a lunch table and fell down. The pain, however, never went away. Alex’s parents took him to the hospital two weeks after the accident and doctors later performed an MRI scan of Alex’s abdomen and found a massive tumor.
Doctors said the tumor wedged itself between some of his vital organs. His chance of survival was 28%.
But Alex is a fighter and his parents, Michael and Bill, picked up and moved to North Ridgeville from Las Vegas in order to get treatment at University Hospitals.
“I couldn’t even walk that much, I couldn’t even leave my room,” Alex said.
Although it was tough, Alex went through months of rigorous chemotherapy and stem cell treatment and now is cancer free, defying the odds.
Now that he’s in remission—on his fourth clear scan—Alex can focus on his future, which he hopes involves him being a dentist.
“I want to make everyone have a beautiful smile,” Alex said. “Smiles bring hope to the world."
A Special Wish Foundation Cleveland made Alex’s wish come true by teaming up with a local dentist and letting Alex be a dentist for a day.
That wasn’t the end of Alex’s journey to provide people with beautiful smiles, however.
After becoming a dentist for a day, Alex was given another opportunity by Crest to don his dental lab coat and treat a patient—but this time Alex got a very special surprise.
The patient Alex was working on was none other than Santa Claus.
Alex said all those cookies Santa eats on Christmas Eve night may have started to take a toll on his teeth.
“He had a lot of cavities,” Alex said.
But Santa shouldn’t worry because Dr. Alex had some sound advice for him.
“Brush twice daily.”
And for those looking to make Santa’s nice list while also helping Santa keep his jolly smile bright, Alex had a pretty thoughtful tip.
“Maybe what everyone should do is put toothpaste and a toothbrush right by the cookies and the milk so that he can brush afterwards when he eats it,” Alex said.
Alex continues to be an inspiration to those around him and wants those who are going through their own fight to stay strong and believe in themselves.
"Be confident in yourself so you can do all the treatments and then after that you can go home," Alex said. "And get to see all your family members again."