Even without a voice box, members of Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Association can still sing and are ready to Shout at Cancer

Kim Winterton, Jim Brewster, and Alan Turner
Kim Winterton, Jim Brewster, and Alan Turner

Knowing you are not the only one without a full voice is a big source of comfort for people with laryngectomy.

Patients who have had their larynx removed have formed their own group, Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Association, where they meet to discuss their experiences, speak to medical companies about treatments and gain support.

Kim Winterton

Kim Winterton

Some members are also part of a choir through Shout at Cancer, a charity dedicated to helping people rebuild their lives after laryngectomy.

They will be performing Outspoken Jazz at Landmark (Crossgate Church), St Mary’s North, Preston, on Saturday, April 6, from 2pm until 4pm.

Dr Thomas Moors, director of Shout at Cancer and doctor in voice pathology, says: “It was thanks to the support from the Ear, Nose and Throat and the Speech Therapy department in Royal Preston that I started with the use of singing, acting and beatboxing techniques in the speech recovery after laryngectomy. It all started here, and finally, after all these years, we’ll have our first concert in Preston.

“We’ve used Spoken Word Workshops to explore how to control intonation better and express yourself about difficulties in life after laryngectomy in a welcoming and creative environment.”

Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Group

Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Group

Kim Winterton, 76, of Eccleston, is an active member of the Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Association and the choir.

She had to have her vocal chords removed 10 years ago after having a malignant tumour on her vocal chords.

She says: “I went to the doctors with a sore throat and eventually they found a lump. It was a malignant tumour on my vocal chords and the only thing to do was have the vocal chords removed.

“Laryngectomies have their vocal chords removed usually through having cancer and have to breathe through their necks which is called a stoma, so we have to find a different way to communicate.

“Our noses do not work for breathing and our mouths are only used for eating, so everything is centred round our stoma.

“Most people have a small speaking valve inserted on the inside of the stoma and maybe a little button on the outside of the skin, which when they want to speak press the button and words come out.

“I use oesophageal speech which is bringing air up from the stomach and using it to make words.”

Read more: Boogie board helps give cancer patients a voice

She adds the group is a great source of support and she learns a lot from the medical services who attend: “We can talk and help each other with any problems we might have.

“We have reps which come from the various medical companies which deal with laryngectomy supplies etc. We have a good relationship with North West Ambulance Service and we have great support from Royal Preston Hospital.

“There are a lot of benefits to being part of the club. It is good you are not alone, as there is always someone to talk to and give advice.

“It is also useful knowing how to use the medical equipment valves, base plates etc, which perhaps only a lary patient can advise.

“We also go out for lunch twice a year and we have a raffle to make a few pennies each month. We were lucky to have £170 donated to us following a raffle by the ENT department at Royal Preston Hospital.

“They had raised around £350, with the other half going to The Royal Cross Primary School, which is the Lancashire School for Deaf Children.”

Tickets for the concert are £5 and available from www.shoutatcancer.org.

Kim adds: “We are very good and perform all over the country. It shows having no vocal chords does not mean life come to an end, we just have to adapt.”

Preston and Chorley District Laryngectomy Association meets on the second Tuesday of the month at Vine House, Cromwell Road, Preston, from 2pm until 4pm.