My name is Lyn and I live with my husband Bruce in Mitcham, an eastern suburb of Melbourne.
For many years I had suffered breathing problems, and despite visits to various specialists, the problem could not be diagnosed. While I was otherwise healthy, in 2015, I decided to take early retirement from my full-time employment as an Executive Officer at a Local Government Authority after 33 years with the same organisation.
After an initial overseas trip to Croatia to celebrate my retirement, I concentrated on finding a solution to my problem. Luckily I was referred to Dr. Peter Thompson, ENT. It was not until I had a few CT scans that the problem was finally diagnosed as a rare cancer in the cartilage of the windpipe. Not only was it a rare cancer, but even more rare in the location. Peter then referred me to the Alfred where he headed up the ENT unit. They undertook so much research into possible solutions prior to the final decision of a total Laryngectomy.
Sounds odd, but the relief was the first reaction to the solution. I had suffered for so long that any solution was ideal. Prior to the operation, I had numerous sessions with all involved at the Alfred, including the wonderful Speech Therapist – Tanya who clearly outlined what was about to occur.
The operation took place in March 2015 requiring four weeks in the hospital, followed by six weeks radiation. During this time, my general health was amazing. I came through the operation and radiation extremely well and probably exceeded my expectations. Luckily (and touch wood) I have only had one other hospital visit and that related to my calcium levels. The dosage now stable.
Due to the extent of the surgery, my only option for speaking was the electrolarynx, my new friend ‘Jodie’. Honestly, it did take some time to get used to and I still struggle today when using the mobile phone, but it is my lifesaver – my lifeline for speech.
Learning to live life as a Laryngectomee required some adjustment at first and I admit to quite a few tears and anxiety. One of my questions prior to the operation was, would be able to travel as I had done previously. They gave me as many positive vibes as possible. My wish has come true. Initially local travels, then slowly extending the radius. I have now had seven overseas trips in the past five years. Our method of travel has been adjusted slightly with longer stays in the one place but this in turn has created a more unique experience being part of the community.
I have lots of interests which including cooking, dining out, travel, wine, socialising with friends (the Lunch Queen), Hawthorn football, and horse racing. The latter has provided us with an interest that enables us to travel around Australia and Victoria following our horses and the horse auctions. Luckily we have had a few winners but still waiting for that big one.
One great investment that we have made in recent months has been the purchase of e-bikes. It has provided a wonderful addition to our activities. My husband rode a lot, but I had problems with my condition dealing with the hills in my area. Well, that is over now with the new bike.