Over the telephone, Walter Trudeau sounds like a man with a zest for living.
“I feel really good. Life is good,” says the 80-year-old Kelowna resident.
Most of us wouldn’t expect a person in Walter’s position to have such an upbeat manner, but he is amazing in many ways.
First, he is speaking over the telephone and his words sound clear and strong. Yet, he is not conversing in the way most of us do. Walter has no larynx (vocal box.) He had a laryngectomy almost three years ago due to esophageal cancer that spread to his larynx. Today he speaks with the help of an indwelling voice prosthesis.
A laryngectomy is the removal of the larynx and separation of the airway from the mouth, nose and esophagus. The laryngectomee breathes through an opening in the neck called a stoma.
With the help of Kelowna speech language pathologist (SLP) Saskia Makela, Walter found the right prosthesis for him and learned how to speak again.
Saskia is one of only two B.C. SLPs outside Victoria and the Lower Mainland currently trained to work with this population of patients. She says she loves the work.
“It keeps me on my toes for assessing the situation and finding a particular answer for each challenge that arises.”
Walter and his wife Jenine are grateful for Saskia and her dedication to making sure her patients are able to communicate successfully.
“She is up to date with the latest information technology,” explains Walter. “We’ve tried several different methods and came up with a really good one for me.
Source: Interior Health
Speech Language Pathologist Saskia Makela works with Kelowna resident Walter Trudeau to make sure he has the best prosthesis for his communication needs. Walter had his larynx surgically removed in July 2013 after cancer.