Internet Laryngectomee Support
April 2000

Register Now for August IAL and WebWhispers Convention

    You can register now for the 2000 International Association of Laryngectomees convention to be held in Nashville, Tennessee in August.  The Voice Institute will run from August 15th through the 19th.  The Annual Meeting will be held from August 17th through the 19th.  Hotel registration must be made by July 15, 2000 in order to guarantee the IAL group rate.  Registration forms for the Voice Institute and Annual Meeting are now available at :

Plan now on coming!

WebWhispers granted Tax-Exempt Status by the IRS


     WebWhispers Treasurer Terry Duga recently announced that WebWhispers has been recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization by the United States Internal Revenue Service rules.  This is retroactive to December 10, 1999.  Therefore, the $5 and higher contributions made to WebWhispers are tax deductible as a charitable donation.  The price of such things as the banquet and WW pins would not be.  If you have a question about this, please consult your tax preparer.

The World is Still a Beautiful Place!
By Barbara Nitschneider

    After many years of voice problems and the removal of what I later found had been pre-cancerous polyps, I had a total laryngectomy and radical neck dissection on June 10, 1974.  The cancer had spread to my lymph glands and, before the surgery, I underwent a month of radiation.

    I was only 27 years old, single, living on my own, and supporting myself as an elementary school teacher.  Talk about scary -- not only from a health viewpoint, but from a lifestyle and financial viewpoint too.  As in any crisis, I went through all of the stages -- denial, anger, tears, depression, and finally acceptance.  By the time I had the surgery after radiation, I had worked a lot of it out.

    My doctor took a personal interest in me and made sure I met one of his laryngectomee patients.  Meeting this man helped considerably until I began to wonder what a woman would sound like.  Would I sound like a man?  The patient I saw used esophageal speech and at the time of my surgery there was no such thing as the TEP prosthesis.  The choice was esophageal speech or a limited selection of electro larynges including the Cooper-Rand.  At this point, my dad contacted the American Cancer Society and got in touch with a local Lost Chord club.  It was though this call that I met a wonderful woman named Betty Powell, who literally changed my life!

    I was thrilled to hear her feminine sounding esophageal voice when I went to meet her at her place of employment.  She did office work including talking on the telephone.  She had been a laryngectomee for many years and led a full and productive life.  I thought, "If she can do it, so can I," and I proceeded to do just that.  This laryngectomee thing was just something I needed to work on and I needed to learn to communicate.  Once I had my surgery, I had no more depression.  I had the months before it to work all of that out.

    It may sound strange, but even then my greatest joy was in riding my horse, and my thoughts and time were spent riding.  I still had everything I needed to do that, and do it well.  In fact, the purchase of a new horse during my rehabilitation was the thing that got most of my time and attention.

    I was single when I had my laryngectomy and, of course, was convinced I would no longer be attractive to men.  I was very wrong!  I dated quite a bit and ended up getting married in 1978 to a man who had a horse in the same stable I did and never knew me before my surgery.  To my husband my laryngectomy has never been a big deal.  To many men, unfortunately, it was.  When I found out I had cancer, the man I was dating left.  If there was any advantage to this whole thing, and there have been many, it weeded out the type of man I would have been better off without anyway.

    Financially, I had a leave of absence from my teaching job and worked as a typist four days a week, and for the school district once a week collating papers.  It was this contact with the school district that kept them up to date with my progress.  During this year, I was attempting to learn esophageal speech and using a Western Electric electrolarynx to communicate.

    Unfortunately, I had started with a speech pathologist who had no experience with esophageal speech, but would not admit it.  After six months with no progress, my doctor became concerned and contacted Dr. Jeri Logemann of Northwestern University, a well-known speech pathologist.  This began five years of wonderful and very successful therapy.  Within two sessions, I was making sound and was back at school teaching by September.  I continued therapy for four and a half years.  To help with expenses since insurance would not cover this therapy, I visited Dr. Logemann's new laryngectomee patients in exchange for therapy.  This was a successful trade-off that continued for many years.  I knew what Betty Powell had done for me, and I was anxious to do the same for others.

    When I returned to teaching I also worked part time as a Mary Kay cosmetics beauty consultant in order to earn a little extra money.  I believed in the products and have used them ever since.  Although I began the selling and demonstrations with people I knew, I quickly branched out to also do them for "strangers."  It was a challenge to make the follow-up phone calls.  But facing the need to speak both in person and on the phone, I could prove that I could and would be accepted for who I was.

    I was fortunate to have many wonderful and supportive friends who provided ears to listen and shoulders to cry on.  The pastor of my church was very helpful and this network of support helped me tremendously.  I especially remember while I was still in the hospital, receiving flowers from a friend with this message, "The world is still a beautiful place!"  Indeed it was, and I was glad to be alive with only a voice missing. (to be continued)

Florida Spring Fling

     Pompono Beach is the scene of this year's Spring Fling Friday, May 5th through Sunday, May 7th.  The Broward County Lost Cord club has obtained a special rate package including lodging and meals.  Reservations must be made by April 14th, and are made through the club by writing Joe Acosta, 7002 Nadina Lane, Tamarac. FL 33321, or via the Internet at :

The Job Interview
By Carole Matson

    I want to share a little story with you.  I've seen many posts regarding individuals reluctant to go back to work.  You can do whatever you set out to do.  Have confidence that you're the same person you were before, just with a different voice (either TEP or electro).  I currently speak with a Cooper-Rand while trying to fine tune my TEP.

My story: Here you go.....

     Today I interviewed (yes, went on an interview) with one of my competitors.  We met for lunch.  Mind you, I'm in voice is my job.  They offered me the Strategic Accounts Management position right on the spot, asking me to name my compensation! All when speaking with my "Robo Woman" voice.

    I don't know yet if I will change jobs, but I wanted to share this with you all.  People will accept you as YOU accept you. So never give up or never give up hope.

(Carole can be reached at

Editor's Note: Carole took the job, and at twice her previous salary! Congratulations Carole!

A Starfish

    An old man was walking on a beach one morning and saw some movement in the distance.  He was curious and as he walked closer, he saw a little girl picking something up from the sand and throwing it into the ocean.  When he got closer, he saw that the girl was throwing starfish that had washed up on the beach back into the ocean.  The old man said to the girl, “The sun is out and there are hundreds of starfish on the beach.  You can’t save them all.  They’ll die.”  The little girl picked up one more starfish, and while she was throwing it into the ocean, she said, “This one won’t.”  (Lilly Cheng, 1996)

    The other day I walked into a convenience store and saw a young man behind the counter smoking a cigarette.  He looked to be still in his teens.  While I brought my purchase to the front, another young man came in.  He was also smoking.  I paid my money and left.  But as I got to my car I paused, stopped, turned around, and went back in. I asked, "Have you ever tried to stop?  I used Zyban and the 'patch' to stop, but it was too late to save my voice," whereupon I pulled my stoma cover down revealing my stoma.  "One out of three or four people who smoke eventually die from it.  I got lucky and this is only the price I paid, so far," and then walked out.  Perhaps this was wrong. Perhaps I was being unnecessarily confrontational.  On the other hand, maybe if I am very lucky he could be one "starfish" that won't perish. (ed) 

New Portable Humidifier

    Room humidifiers are pretty bulky things to take on a trip, but Kaz thinks it has come up with a good solution in a new one they have developed.  The largest part of a humidifier is the water tank and Kaz has made this part so that it can use any standard plastic bottle.  You could bring this with you separately, or purchase bottled water at your destination.  The humidifier is the ultrasonic type as opposed to steam or evaporative, and operates on 110 or 220 current, so it can also be used throughout the world.  It is not inexpensive at $69.99, nearly twice what a non-portable one costs.  But those who travel frequently might consider it a good investment.  You can order it by calling (800) 477-0457, or get additional information at :
Another source for the same product is :

Lary Laughs

by Judy Greiwe

A Fish Story

     Lary Laughs cartoonist and spouse to laryngectomee Dave, Judy Greiwe, claims to have narrowly escaped death in the process of catching this monster albino catfish she nicknamed "Moby Catfish." A smaller fish, perhaps a relative of the larger one, was apparently bent on revenge at her having caught "Moby," and it made a daring attack. Judy reports, "Luckily, the smaller fish just hit me in the head and missed anything of importance." 

The editorial staff is keeping an open mind (no pun intended) on this fishy story.
(Judy can be reached at

IAL Changes Addresses

    Webmaster Dutch Helms announced recently that the office for the International Association for Laryngectomees has moved from Maryland to their new location in Virginia.  Please make a note of the contact information :

International Association of Laryngectomees
PO Box 2664
Newport News
VA 23609-0664
Tel: (757) 888 0324
Fax: (757) 888 0965

Welcome New Members

   We welcome the 24 new WebWhispers members who joined us in March:

Suzanne Brema 
(SLP Grad Student)
Clear Lake, TX
Kyle Bryan
Marietta, GA
Forrest Burnette
Clermont, FL
William Chjittenden
Barhamsville, VA
James Cornish
E. Lansdowne, PA
Ralph DeGregory
Delray Beach, FL
Lisa Donnelly (Caregiver)
Lexington, KY
Lois Downey
Amarillo, TX
Robert Frucht
West Hempstead, NY
Neil Grenham
InHealth Technologies
Carpinteria, CA
Edward Haase
Aledo, TX
Sandi Hill (Caregiver)
Sierra Vista, AZ
James Johnson (Caregiver)
Paramount, CA
Phyllis Johnson
Paramount, CA
Avis & Jean Kaeselau
South Dennis, MA
John Kinney
Auburn, NY
Al Mallet
Poughquag, NY
Beth Miller -SLP
Evansville, IN
Richard G. Peevy
El Lago, TX
Jacqueline Saturley
Niagra Falls, NY
Sylvia Lee Simmons
San Carlos, CA
Johanna Tweed
Emily, MN
Robert Wright
Grand Island, NY
Ronald Yelton
Rutherfordton, NC

As a charitable organization, as described in IRS § 501(c)(3), the
WebWhispers Nu-Voice Club
is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions
 in accordance with IRS § 170.

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