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Murray's Mumbles ... Musings from the President
Prior to our laryngectomy surgery, except in dire emergencies, we are faced with treatment choices. We may be offered chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of both. Laryngeal cancer is indeed rare as far as cancers go. When it is believed that there are only 50,000+ laryngectomees currently in the US this is a very small percentage from a population nearing 300 million. This is one of the many reasons why a number of ENTs and SLPs are unfamiliar with our disease as they have had little or no exposure to our plight. My first exposure to an ENT physician to whom I was referred by my primary care physician was a disaster. He specialized in cosmetic surgery and hadn't seen a case of laryngeal cancer since medical school. He performed a biopsy on my vocal cords but for some unknown reason the results came back "inconclusive". Fortunately he had the good sense to refer me to an ENT that specialized in head and neck cancer.
This doctor first scoped me and then did an immediate biopsy. The results were back quickly - cancer of the left vocal cord at Stage 2. There was no node involvement nor metastasis. I had 25 sessions of radiotherapy which the radiation oncologist assured me would have a 95% cure rate. Well, I joined the 5 % club that failed XRT. My voice returned for about a day and I was then hoarse again. Had I known that I would fail radiation I would have skipped it and opted for a laryngectomy at the outset. This would have saved me from the fistulas that developed in the radiated tissue and kept me in hospital for another ten days.
Well, that was seven years ago and times have changed with new treatments becoming available. We now have vastly improved and more accurate radiation equipment and new chemotherapy which shows much promise for curing this disease without salvage surgery which is the medical term for a laryngectomy performed after other treatment has failed to eliminate the cancer.
For those that live in the developed parts of the world I am hopeful that these new improvements will make the "laryngectomy" part of history.
Take care and stay well,
? 2005 Dr. Jeff Searl ]
coordinated by Dr. Jeff Searl, Associate Professor ( email@example.com )
Hearing and Speech Department, The University of Kansas Medical Center
MS3039, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160
Hello from the New Coordinator!
My name is Jeff Searl and I am thrilled to be coordinating the VoicePoints
column! This month's column is to introduce myself and offer a few comments
regarding the upcoming year. Before doing so, I extend a hearty thank you to
Dan Kelly, the past coordinator of the column. He did a wonderful job and I
hope that I can continue getting top-notch folks to contribute to the
newsletter. Thanks, Dan!
In letting you all know a bit about me, the details aren't necessarily important but I would like readers to have a sense of who I am so that they might feel comfortable contacting me about the VoicePoints column with feedback and suggestions. I have been involved in laryngectomy work for the past 12 years, both as a clinician and a researcher. After finishing my Master?s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1991, I worked in hospital settings for the next eight years. Most of this time was spent at the University of Kansas Medical Center where I worked in both the ENT and the Hearing and Speech Departments. Although I saw a wide range of patients with voice and swallowing disorders in this job, those with various types of head and neck cancer constituted a large percentage of my caseload. I have been involved in training individuals with a laryngectomee in the use of esophageal, electro-laryngeal and tracheoesophageal speech.
While working clinically, I also continued work on my Ph.D., which
I finished in 1999 (University of Kansas Medical Center). My research
during the Ph.D. program focused heavily on acoustic and aerodynamic aspects
of tracheoesophageal speech. With the degree in hand, I moved into an
academic setting at
This past summer, I accepted an Associate Professor position back
in the Hearing and Speech Department at the University of Kansas Medical
Center. I love being back in
That?s a bit about me. Now a bit about the upcoming year and
VoicePoints. The main goal is, I think, the same as what my predecessor
had in mind, namely to get out clinically relevant information that will be
useful to the those with a laryngectomy as well as healthcare professionals
who read the online journal. While I am more than happy to brainstorm
regarding future article topics, I also feel a bit queasy about being the sole
person to decide what goes in here. I will be soliciting some of the
lead clinicians and researchers to author articles ? at times requesting them
to give us something specific, but at others working collaboratively with them
to decide on relevant topics that deserve attention. However, I also am
very interested in hearing directly from the readers to find out what you all
are interested in learning about or discussing. I have a running list of
topics that I would like to keep adding to and picking off over the next year
Let me know what you want to learn and we will see what we can do. Feel free to contact me ( Email is best:
(1) The Cayman Islands "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
Your WebWhispers Cruisers visit to the Cayman Islands on December 14th proved to be a real "rock and roll" day for all concerned. Early that morning our good ship "Galaxy" anchored in George Town's harbor, which was crowded with other cruise ships already tied up to the docks. As is standard in such cases, those passengers taking shore excursions were then moved to shore via "tenders" ... small shuttle craft used to ferry passengers from the ship to the shore and back. That particular day, the seas were unusually rough and waves and swells made the loading, unloading, and transit of the tenders a real "MOVING" experience. However, by 5:00 PM all of us were safely back on board and at 5:45 joined with about 950 other passengers in sitting down for dinner in the Orion Restaurant. At about 6:00 the Galaxy pulled up its anchor and slowly began to depart the harbor for our next destination ... Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
At approximately 6:20, as the waiters elegantly presented the main dining course, strange rumbling noises lasting about 10 seconds passed beneath and through the ship. While most passengers may have noticed the noises and slight movements of the ship, none seemed to react with any alarm ... judging them just to be "normal", given the condition of the seas. Up on the bridge, however, it was a different story. The captain and crew immediately knew that "something was NOT normal" and immediately began a stem to stern inspection of the ship to determine what had happened to cause such noise and movement. As the ship inspection proceeded, the ship's radio room received the word as to what had occurred.
At 6:20, as our ship steamed out of George Town's harbor, a major earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale, had taken place 6.2 miles deep on the ocean floor about 20 miles South-Southeast of George Town in a "dog leg" of the Cayman Trench ... with about 11 smaller aftershocks taking place over the following half hour!! While the majority of the Galaxy passengers were largely oblivious to these events, the residents of the Caymans certainly were not, with one resident saying, "I got out of my house as fast as I could. I thought a plane was coming at us." Pictures fell from walls, store shelves rattled, and swimming pools cracked, but luckily there was no sign of major damage. The US Geological Survey office said the last comparable earthquake of this magnitude in the area struck back in 1900! The Caymans did suffer a smaller quake on September 9th, just days before Hurricane Ivan slammed over the island nation and caused damage estimated at nearly twice its annual economic output and destroying 70 percent of its buildings and damaging many hotels!
Our ship, of course, was undamaged, as confirmed by the crew's inspection, but it was not until the next morning that the Captain announced to the passengers what had happened and what precautions the crew had taken. Many were surprised, as they had not noticed the 10 second "rumblings" of the night before ... after all, who would have thought that while experiencing a SEA adventure we would also experience a major EARTHquake at no extra charge!!!
(2) "Cashless Cruising" Is How It Is Done!
One of the great conveniences of "cruising" is that one's onboard experience is virtually a "cash-free" life style. While you may need SOME cash during your shore excursions (for tips to tour guides or for on shore purchases that you elect not to charge), you will NOT need any cash while on board. "Cashless Cruising" was created by all cruise lines for their convenience AND for the convenience of their passengers as well. So, how does this system work?
In essence, when you check in for your cruise, you are issued a standard-size, plastic "credit card" - tied back to a personal credit card that you told your cruise line to charge your purchases to. In the case of Celebrity Cruise Lines this card is called a "SeaPass"... an example of a typical card is shown at the left. It has standard information on the front side and on the back is a magnetic strip and a place for your verifying signature. It functions not only as an onboard credit card, but also as your cabin key. Normally, all "food, coffee, tea" and "normal entertainment and activities" on the ship are free (that is, included in your original cruise price). To pay for all other items on board, such as bar items (soft drinks, wine, cocktail drinks), shore excursion charges, spa treatments, Internet access fees, gift shop/duty free purchases, etc., you simply present your card. The staff then "swipes" it through a machine and the purchase is simply charged to your SeaPass account.
You may also use your SeaPass card to pay for (charge) your "end of cruise" gratuities (tips) to your waiters and stewards, etc. You would simply stop by the "Guest Relations Desk" sometime during the cruise and let them know the AMOUNTS you wish to "tip" each person. These will be noted on your account and just before the cruise ends, the steward will deliver pre-addressed and pre-paid "coupons" to your cabin which you can then hand deliver to the appropriate waiters and stewards, per your previous directions.
A running total of your account can be seen on the
interactive TV from your cabin anytime.
And at the very end of the cruise, a "final statement" is
delivered to your cabin which fully and completely itemizes all the charges you
incurred during the cruise and that final amount is then "charged" against the
personal credit card you chose when you checked in to the cruise.
These charges will then show up on your next regular billing from your personal
credit card company after you return from the cruise.
It is a great system that works very well and allows one to travel virtually cash-free for their entire trip. If, however, while on the cruise one would ever need CASH it is always available from either the ship's Purser's Office or from an onboard ATM. "Cashless Cruising" is certainly a great, convenient way to travel!!
(3) The Panama Canal - Highlight of the Cruise!
Traversing the Panama Canal was certainly the highlight of this WebWhispers Cruise. The Panama Canal extends across the Isthmus of Panama from Colon on the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea) side to Balboa and the Pacific Ocean. The canal was constructed in two stages. The first between 1881and 1888 by a French company, then followed by the Americans, with their construction completed in 1914. In 1883 it was realized that the tide level at the Pacific side was almost 19 feet higher than the Atlantic side. Engineers concluded the difference in levels would be a danger to navigation. It was then proposed that a tidal lock should be constructed near Panama City to preserve the level from there to Colon. Eventually, due to some new thinking, and in an effort to do it right the first time, it was decided that the original plan should be modified and the widely accepted lock system should be used. So now, when a ship traveling from the Atlantic side reaches the Gatun Locks, a series of three locks raise the ship about 26 feet each time (a total of 85 feet) to Gatun Lake. Then it's a 40 mile trip to the locks at Pedro Miguel, locks that lower the ship 30 feet. At the Miraflores Locks the ship is then lowered an additional 52 feet to Pacific Ocean sea level.
Each lock is approximately 110' wide X 1000' long (By the way, our ship, the Galaxy, was 106 feet wide ... leaving a 24 inch clearance on either side). Each lock may be filled or emptied in less than 10 minutes, and each pair of lock gates takes two minutes to open. A 30,000-pound fender chain at the end of each lock prevents ships from ramming the gates before they open. Water is not pumped into and out of the locks, but flows from the artificial lake through culverts 18 feet in diameter running lengthwise within the center and side walls of the locks. There are a total of 100 holes in each chamber for the water to enter into or drain from, depending on which valves are opened or closed.. Electric towing locomotives, called "mules", guide the ships by cable through the locks. Most ships require six of these mules, three on each side.
Note the rowboat ...
... rowing a guideline out to the ship!!
Galaxy slips into the locks
2nd set of locks to our left ..
... slowly raise another ship
Note railroad tracks for the "mules"
Lock filling with water
Ship raised 26' in 8 minutes!
Leaving locks into Gatun Lake
A dam at Gatun Lake is able to generate the electricity
to run all the motors which operate the canal as well as the mules in charge
of guiding the ships through the canal. No force is required to adjust the
water level between the locks except gravity. As the lock operates, the water
simply flows into the locks from the lakes or flows out to the sea level
channels. The canal also relies on the overabundant rainfall of the area to
compensate for the loss of the 52 million gallons of fresh water consumed
during each crossing.
Some interesting facts: A ship traveling from New York to San Francisco can save 7,872 miles using the Panama Canal instead of going around South America. The average time spent in transit from ocean to ocean is approximately 8 - 10 hours. Until Lake Mead was formed by the building of the Hoover Dam, Gatun Lake was the largest artificial body of water in the world.
We have posted 4 "Panama Canal Cruise Pictures Pages" to the web site which we hope you will all enjoy!! These pages begin at:
Views, & Plain Talk
by Pat Wertz Sanders, WebWhispers VP - Web Information
By this time, I have accepted that I will never be rich, thin, or beautiful, so it is nice to be able to settle for reachable goals. Manage my finances well and stretch Social Security as best I can to be comfortable and still do some of the things I have wanted to do. Keep myself to a reasonable size, try to maintain weight and just settle for clean and neat!
Attitude is not something I have a big problem maintaining. I think I was born smiling and I am a happy person most of the time. I'm lucky. Yes, even with two separate cancers, I am lucky because we found them when we did and I am, in the next few months, going to celebrate an eleven year anniversary for breast cancer and a 10 year anniversary for vocal cord cancer. I am lucky to have had those years.
Now health is a different subject and my resolution this year will pertain to staying as healthy as I can, taking a moderate amount of vitamins, calcium and magnesium on a daily basis. Take my medicines at the proper times and get all of my check ups on schedule. Eat foods that are good for me as well as leaving space for a few that I love. After all, ice cream does have calcium and it is easy to swallow for someone whose throat is a bit smaller than it used to be.
I will do interesting things and keep a variety of friendships going. I will read, work puzzles, and play games to keep alert. I will keep up my work on WebWhispers and with the two newsletters and hope that I will have volunteers to join me and expand their world as it has expanded mine.
I will exercise daily. I did for several years but earlier this year, I slipped when I had an electrolyte imbalance and was tired and out of whack. I will not set my goals as high as they used to be because at three quarters of a century, I have the right to cut them back. I will have a reasonable goal for my exercise and I will meet it if at all possible. I will also stretch, get an occasional massage, and use good posture as often as I can remember..
Notice that I use the words reasonable and moderate. I like those words. When so many of us have been through so many treatments for cancer and other diseases, I don't want to make life too hard. If an unforeseen illness prevents me from meeting these goals, I will do the best I can considering the circumstances and I will be forgiving if I miss.
However, I will feel guilty if I don't try.
Bits, Buts, & Bytes
(1) Top 10 Internet Hoaxes and Legends for 2004
Courtesy of Urban Legends and Folklore:
( http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/internet/a/top_10_uls.htm )
The year 2004 is now at an end and it's time to unveil our partly-scientific, partly-subjective roundup of the Top 10 Net Hoaxes and Urban Legends of 2004. Contenders were ranked according to reader interest and longevity as measured by volume of email submissions, page views and search queries throughout the year.
Unsurprisingly, the threat of terrorism and the conflict in Iraq figured prominently in the Netlore of 2004, alongside more "evergreen" topics such as sex, missing children, uncanny images and, of course, free money. In a somewhat less predictable result, the Top 10 wound up almost entirely free of political content despite a veritable tsunami of rumor mongering in connection with the U.S. presidential election during the latter half of the year. Netlore aficionados will note that several of the items on the list, though long since debunked, are holdovers from previous years, proving yet again that "the truth never stands in the way of a good story."
Here, in ascending order of popularity, are our Top 10 Net Hoaxes and Urban Legends of 2004:
Bill Gates Is Giving Away His Fortune!
Patriotic Pepsi Can Omits 'Under God' in
Terrorists Are Buying UPS Uniforms on eBay
The Eye of God
Giant Human Skeleton Unearthed in Arabian
Penny Brown Is Missing
World's Tallest Woman
Attack of the Camel Spiders
(2) Oops! No Wonder Potential Employers Were Silent
(Courtesy of Jay Lee's Help Line, Houston Chronicle, December 2004)
Question: I've got a puzzling situation that I haven't been able to resolve. I've been e-mailing r?sum?s using Outlook 2000 for several months, with no response. It turns out that Word-format r?sum?s that I attach are being converted to win.dat files. The recipients can't open the attachment, so they delete the e-mail. Is there a solution I can apply on my end so I can ensure that these potential employers see my r?sum?? Answer: When you send an e-mail with an attachment, your mail program has to take that file and encode it. This encoding basically breaks the attachment into a string of characters that are included into the body of the message. The recipient's mail program then takes these characters and decodes them back into the original file format.
The problem you are experiencing is caused when you send a message in Rich Text Format. When you compose a message using RTF, you can use different fonts and styles. This is what gives your e-mail a little extra pizazz. However, this pizazz must also be encoded when the e-mail is sent. Therein lies the problem. Some e-mail programs receive the message and, because of compatibility issues, combine the formatting encoding and the attachment encoding into one file: win.dat.
To resolve this issue, you should send your message in plain text. This will cause your mail program to encode only the Word attachment and nothing else, giving you the greatest amount of compatibility with any e-mail system.
For what it's worth, I recommend that you use plain text e-mail whenever e-mailing something professional. The use of fancy backgrounds or multicolored text or blinking icons not only has the potential to hinder your message but also to irritate the recipient. And if that recipient is the one who can get you an interview at the company, you sure don't want to do that.
ListServ "Flame Warriors"
Filibuster and his pet topic form an endless loop. If his first
thrust doesn't win the day, he will try to gain ground with a
second, third, fourth ... nth repetition. He may even make a
good initial attack, but his monotonous hectoring and
prodigious output rapidly clears the field of other Warriors.
Filibuster eventually lands in everyone's "delete file.".
Above courtesy of Mike Reed
See more of his work at: http://www.winternet.com/~mikelr/flame1.html
Welcome To Our New Members:
would like to welcome all new laryngectomees, caregivers and
professionals to WebWhispers! There is much information to be gained from the
site and from suggestions submitted by our members on the Email lists. If you
have any questions or constructive criticism please contact Pat or Dutch at
We welcome the 12 new members who joined us during December 2004:
Nadhal Al Rehani - Caregiver
San Jose, CA
Isabel Brintrup - Vendor, Helix Medical
Lynn Hurd - Caregiver
Dolores Norman - Caregiver
Rock Hill, SC
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Kristen Sheehan - Caregiver
San Angelo, TX
WebWhispers is an Internet-based laryngectomee support group.
It is a member of the International Association of Laryngectomees.
The current officers are:
Pat Sanders............V.P.-Web Information
Terry Duga.........V.P.-Finance and Admin.
Libby Fitzgerald.....V.P.-Member Services
WebWhispers welcomes all those diagnosed with cancer of the
larynx or who have lost their voices for other reasons, their
caregivers, friends and medical personnel. For complete information
on membership or for questions about this publication, contact
Dutch Helms at: firstname.lastname@example.org
? 2005 WebWhispers