Many people seem to be under the spell of ‘silence reigns’ once a full laryngectomy has been performed – not so my friends. There is light at the end of the tunnel and in our case….. sound!
Getting rid of the awful cancerous mass that was invading your throat and threatening to kill you is only half the battle, once that has gone the real battle begins. Be positive and you will see far greater benefits than if you sit at home and sulk all day long-bemoaning one’s misfortune is not on the calendar folks: sorry!
Many of us learn to speak in a different way, some with the ‘voice valve’ which is the link between the air tube & food tube utilised by shutting off the air supply for a few seconds to speak, some by using an electro-larynx (like myself after the first option failed) thus sounding like a Dalek and others need the use of an ‘i-pad’ or similar speaking aid.
No matter what we use or which way we have learned to adapt to a new form of speech we have all found the strength to rise to this new challenge. I’m not saying that it is easy because it isn’t, in fact, it can be extremely frustrating as ‘this goes wrong‘ or ‘that goes wrong‘ until you find what suits you best. Below is a video of Dr Itzhak Brook, an Isreali doctor who found he had throat cancer in 2006 – listen to him in this video:
Dr B has also written a book on the subject and is also on facebook where he is happy to answer any questions that you might have. You can also read plenty & learn plenty on Dr B’s blog here. (dribrook.blogspot.com Itzhak Brook MD )
What I am trying to say to you all is that you must never give up hope. The big battle has been won, the surgeons have ‘sliced n diced‘ and the cancerous crap is in the bin where it deserves to be-you, on the other hand, are still here, alive & kicking and ready for war – the war on speech, so go for it, be positive and show the world what you are made of!
Proof that we can do it….. !
We part sponsored an American gentlemen in his quest to cycle down the west coast of America, meeting fellow lary’s along the way. Starting from Portland (Oregon) Sean Z Smith managed to complete his journey all the way to Los Angeles and for a man that has suffered more than most at the hands of this evil form of cancer I can assure you that this is no mean feat! In actual fact folks it is a monumental feat of inner & outer strength from a man that all but died – you can read much of Sean’s story here. At the bottom of the page you need to click the ‘HOME’ link which will take you to Sean’s “Epic Adventures for Survivors” an organisation Sean has created for people like us, an organisation that shows the rest of the world that cancer does NOT necessarily mean the end – more of a beginning!
We part funded this trip, not only because we admired the sheer bravery & courage shown by Sean, but for the simple fact that HE wanted to ‘journal’ this expedition and collect video footage of the people he met along the way so as to share their stories with anyone & everyone. Sean gave out hundreds of our stickers along the way so that people know that this country ‘is there’ for laryngectomees too! Sadly our first respondent (Mr Ron Rock) died shortly after this interview was given, but I urge you to listen to a man that overcame all the odds to produce speech in the face of adversity!
Ron and Sean [on the left] discuss life without voice after surgery and the challenges of being understood when speaking with a prosthesis. You will quickly notice that although they both sound very guttural (Dalek like) they have different tones to their ‘Dalek voice‘ – this is very interesting, but I’m not sure why this is! Perhaps Dr B can elaborate on this strange phenomenon. We will be bringing you more interviews as our good friend Aaron F Litt edits & produces them for this is an awesome & extraordinary piece of work by our American friends.
more to follow…..