TALKING SPEECH: Gladstone speech pathologist Meg Currant and client John Graham celebrating speech pathology week.
TALKING SPEECH: Gladstone speech pathologist Meg Currant and client John Graham celebrating speech pathology week. CQHHS

'Marvellous': Throat cancer patient learns to speak again

JOHN Graham had to have his voice box surgically removed because of throat cancer.

That was 11 years ago and since then the Gladstone resident has worked with a speech pathologist to learn how to communicate with confidence and overcome speech challenges.

He is one of more than 1.2million Australians who have a communication disability and have worked with a speech pathology professional.

This is Speech Pathology Week, with the theme "Communicating with confidence".

 

Mr Graham has been a model patient for speech pathologist Meg Currant for the past two years.

 

He initially used an electro-larynx to speak, but now uses a voice prosthesis - a one-way valve inserted between the oesophagus and the trachea in Mr Graham's neck, that allows him to speak.

He breathes through a stoma, a hole in his neck, and to speak he blocks the stoma with his finger to send air through the voice prosthesis up to the mouth - creating a voice.

"It's just marvellous, it's so much easier," Mr Graham said. "I don't have to worry about charging batteries."

He learnt to speak again from scratch following his surgery and he said plenty of practice helped him.

"To start with talk to yourself or the cat or the dog," he said.

Speech pathologist Meg Currant has special training to treat patients who have had laryngectomies.

She said she loved helping her clients learn to communicate with confidence.

"It's wonderful to be able to make a difference," she said.

"Being able to communicate is so important."



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