Restaurant staff rallies around cancer survivor

by Jen Lynds

In most restaurants, the wait staff make note of your order, deliver the food and accept the tip without another thought about the customer they just served.

That is not the case at the Blue Moose Restaurant on U.S. Route 1 in Monticello, a thriving family establishment where the customers are catered to by a staff that pays attention to them even when they aren’t paid to do so.

It was something that the Slauenwhite family of Mount Chase found out during a recent visit to the restaurant.

Kent Wotton and Darcie Nason, two Blue Moose employees, are organizing a dinner and dance to benefit Skipper Slauenwhite.

Slauenwhite was recently diagnosed with malignant mucosal melanoma. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, mucosal melanoma develops in the mucous membrane that lines areas such as the nose, mouth and esophagus. Mucosal melanomas are especially difficult to detect because they can easily be mistaken for other, more common conditions.

Slauenwhite noticed small black spots on the side of his face and sought out a doctor. A short time later, testing confirmed the diagnosis. The prognosis wasn’t good.

“It was so surreal,” said Slauenwhite’s wife, Kathy. “There are just no words to describe how we felt.”

Testing revealed that the cancer was in the side of the face and jaw but was not anywhere else in his body. The only treatment for his condition was surgery.

First, Slauenwhite lost two teeth and part of his jaw. A second surgery took more jaw bone. That was followed by five weeks of radiation. He was forced to grind up or blend all of his food.

Despite his illness, he kept working at Carver Brother’s Logging in Patten.

Slauenwhite is not only pushing through each workday, he’s also moving forward with his life. “We’ve had to adjust to a few things as they came along,” he said. “I can’t change this so, I’m going to do what I what to do and live my life!”

After hearing his story, Wotton and Nason started planning the benefit spaghetti supper and dance, scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Littleton Snowmobile Club. Supper, which will cost $7, will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Music by Ted and The Boys will follow from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Donations for the dance will be accepted.

Attendees must be 21 years old and bring identification to be checked at the door.

During the event, tickets will be sold for a 50/50 raffle. Tickets for Maine Black Bears and the Portland Pirates games also will be sold at $1 each or 5 for $6.00.

Other raffles will be taking place including a raffle for a homemade quilt.

Slauenwhite is one of millions of Americans who have battled melanomas, which can develop anywhere on your body. They most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms and face, according to researchers. Melanomas can also occur in areas that don’t receive much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and fingernail beds. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin.

Symptoms of melanoma include a change in an existing mole or the development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin.

Melanoma doesn’t always begin as a mole. It can also occur on otherwise normal-appearing skin.

As Slauenwhite continues with his recovery, Wotton said that he and Nason are glad to help out in any way they can.

“We hoping we can make enough to help out, something like this can be a huge financial burden to a family, and they are great people,” said Wotton. “We’re hoping the public will really come out and support this event.”