Kaitlyn Michaelis took to social media with an unusual request: she wanted friends for her dad.
David “Dave” Michaelis was diagnosed with sinus cancer in 2007. An invasive surgery resulted in the disfigurement of his nose and palette and the removal of his upper teeth. Shortly after, Dave relapsed with cancer in his lymph nodes, resulting in scarring up his neck.
Later, a bone graft using bones from his ankle aimed to repair his palette, but a post-surgery infection saw more damage to his mouth which prevented the use of dentures and limited the use of his foot.
“He’s just had a really rough go,” Kaitlyn said. “He finds that whenever he’s out in public people stare at him. I was out shopping with him the other day heard a little girl run to her mom and say ‘Mom, I just saw a man without a nose!’”
The surgeries have left Dave, 64, with concave cheeks and only the small remnants of a nose. While he can still speak, it takes a bit more effort to understand, and he also can’t easily eat in public. He also wears hearing aids after radiation therapy damaged his ears.
Dave and his family have lived across Canada, and most recently moved from Kamloops to Victoria in 2016.
“Ever since we moved from Kamloops my dad hasn’t found a single friend that wants to hangout,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s just so frustrating because my dad is such an interesting person.”
Before he retired Dave worked the ramps for Air Canada. Being near the planes wasn’t enough: he got a pilot’s license and even owned his own plane when his family lived in Vancouver.
“He’s an aviator, for sure,” Kaitlyn said. “He’s a really relaxed, really chill guy.”
Dave has a passion for working out, watching movies, and going for short walks with his wife. But, his favourite pastime is riding his motorcycle, an FJR Yamaha.
“What really prompted me is he called me about two weeks ago and he told me this was going to be the last year he was gonna ride, ” Kaitlyn said. “When I asked why, he said ‘I’m tired of doing it alone.’”
Dave has tried reaching out to other groups before without much success.
“Now he’s just like ‘Is it my face that’s putting people off?’ It’s always the first thing he thinks about.”
Since Kaitlyn put up her post on Reddit, she got many responses with people suggesting organizations like the Legion or the Rotary Club, all which are fairly out of the way from Dave’s North Saanich home. Nonetheless, several people have reached out with their email addresses, something Kaitlyn hopes will lead to something.
“Sometimes it’s just one person that can lead to someone else, and then a whole group.”
When Dave found out about Kaitlyn’s post he was touched, and glad to know his story could get out.
“He said that, hopefully if it does get published, other people with facial disfigurements won’t feel so alone,” Kaitlyn said.
Anyone interested in reaching Dave can email firstname.lastname@example.org
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