Internet Laryngectomee Support
September 2000

Kicking Up Our Heels in Nashville

    Over 140 WebWhispers members and their guests were in attendance at the 49th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Laryngectomees held at the Music City Sheraton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee August 15-19.  Over 400 laryngectomees from around the world were in attendance at the Annual Meeting and Voice Institute.

    The opening session of the Annual Meeting provided a taste of Nashville's famous Grand Old Opry radio program when Dr. Ed Stone, Director of the Voice Institute, acted as announcer for a simulated version of the show complete with commercials for Martha White Flour.  In attendance was Little Jimmie Dickens who performed as master of ceremonies in introducing musical performances by country and western music stars George Lucas and Teresa Andersson, who both perform at the Opry.  After their performances Teresa signed copies of her CDs, and all three performers made themselves available for photographs and autographs. 

    The keynote address was given by Terry Day, MD, Director of the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation.  The IAL is planning some joint projects with the Foundation which serves laryngectomees as well as tens of thousands of other head and neck cancer patients.  Some local laryngectomee groups may decide to become Yul Brynner Foundation charter clubs.

     The afternoon sessions featured presentations on cancer basics by Ron Hamaker, MD (a colleague of Dr. Eric Blom  who spoke to the Voice Institute on Wednesday), a panel of doctors from Europe on their approaches to laryngectomee rehabilitation, and a talk by WW member and IAL Vice President and Treasurer Jack Henslee on his thoughts about the future of the IAL.  The traditional Sing-A-Long took place on Thursday night with lots of favorites sung to piano accompaniment. 

    The WW Dinner was held on Thursday night. 106 members and their guests attended.  Framed certificates were presented to WW members Marianne Peereboom-Kooijman, who was the member who came the greatest distance to attend and who has been a leader in European laryngectomee rehabilitation; Barb Nitschneider, who has been a laryngectomee longer than any other member and who has made many contributions to laryngectomees through the IAL and otherwise; and David Blevins, for his work with The WebWhispers Newsletter and Journal.  Congratulations to Pat Sanders for all of the great work she did in planning for the banquet.  The facilities and menu were great.  We were also grateful to WW member Richard Najarian whose company, Bruce Medical, paid for the cocktail hour which preceded the dinner.

    The sessions on Friday included a presentation on training laryngectomee hospital visitors, establishing local Yul Brynner chapters, a presentation by our own Dutch Helms on computer and Internet basics with a graphic tour of the IAL and WW websites, Medicare, and WW member and treasurer Terry Duga giving a talk on the benefits of establishing nonprofit status for laryngectomee groups and how to go about doing that.

    WW member Merritt Oakes' spouse Donna was elected President of the IAL Auxiliary.

    The sessions on Saturday sessions included a presentation on tobacco education programs and a panel which discussed laryngectomee rehabilitation around the world.  This was followed by the Delegate Assembly.

     Our founder and webmaster Dutch Helms was presented with the IAL "Laryngectomee of the Year" trophy for his work in establishing the IAL website.

    WW member Wayne Baker was also honored with an award for his work as editor of the IAL News, and President Ackerman announced that David Blevins was the new IAL News Editor.

    The IAL budget which now shows a projected deficit of $38,100 for next year was presented and approved.  It is anticipated that fundraising will balance the budget for next year.  The IAL also has savings.

    The annual Fun Show, which was written and directed by WW member Ron Langseth, was presented later in the day, and the Banquet and Dance was held that night.  The food and music were great, and the dancing was enjoyed by all as participants and spectators and many stayed until the band packed up at 11 p.m.

    The Board of Directors met on Sunday.  It considered proposals for the 2001 IAL meeting including one by WW member Frank Deam for an Hawaii meeting site, as well as for South Carolina made by WW members Wilda and Rae Provost.  The Board also received an indication from Texas of an interest in hosting a future meeting. 

    In part out of concern about a reduced attendance because of cost and distance and travel costs and funding associated with the Voice Institute, a decision was made to hold the 50th anniversary 2001 Annual Meeting and Voice Institute in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The details, including the dates and hotel selection are in negotiation at this time.  Further details will be released as soon as they are known.

    The Board also voted to establish the position of executive director/office manager, and is currently in negotiation with a candidate who applied for the position.  As soon as a contract is signed this information will be made public.

Tomatoes - The Real “Love Apples”

    In the August issue of the Journal we reported on research which demonstrated the cancer preventing abilities of red apples.  It turns out that a number of foods which are naturally red in color share some of those same cancer-prevention characteristics according to Certified Nutrition Specialist and President of the Los Angeles ACS chapter, Carolyn Katzin. 

    A nutrient that has come under increasing scrutiny for its potential cancer-protective properties is lycopene.  This is the red pigment found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots and others.  Lycopene is one of hundreds of compounds that belong to a class of nutrients called carotenoids, and they have been widely studied for their health benefits.  Although it is less well known than beta-carotene, it is probably the most common carotenoid in our diets, according to Katzin.

    Lycopene is best absorbed when eaten along with fats or oils.  Cooking does not destroy the lycopene, so stewed tomatoes, for example, are as good as raw ones.  It works as a cancer preventer because it is as antioxidant, or chemical which neutralizes what are called “free radicals.”  Free Radicals are involved in creating cell and DNA damage in our bodies.  As we know, cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells.  Diets rich in lycopene are particularly associated with reduced prostate, breast, lung and digestive tract cancers.  These cancers constitute a major source of all lethal carcinomas.

Rainbows and Grandfathers

    If you have visited a speech/language pathologist you may have found yourself reading out loud about rainbows or grandfathers.  You might have  wondered about these unusual topics and some of the strange wordings if the purpose was not explained.

    It turns out that these two readings are “classics” and contain all of the phonemes, or speech sounds, in the English language.  Either of the readings may be used by your SLP to screen for problems in articulating the various speech sounds.  This screening can then be followed up with more specific lessons to help provide practice in pronouncing words which contain the problem sound or sounds identified. 

    Many laryngectomees have difficulty pronouncing the “h” sound.  The reason is that the glottis was removed during the  laryngectomy operation along with the larynx.  The glottis is the space between the vocal cords, and the “h” sound is made by passing exhaled air past a lightly closed glottis.  Without a glottis, we laryngectomees have to substitute another speech sound which is similar to the “h.” 

    Two techniques for approximating the “h” sound which may be recommended by your SLP were discussed in the December 1999 newsletter.  One is to prolong the vowel sound which follows an “h.” An example is “heat” and “eat.”  Prolong the “e” sound in front of the word “eat,” and it is likely to be perceived by the listener as an “h.”  Another solution for the missing “h” is to begin to substitute the “k” sound, but stop short of fully inserting it where the “h” should be.  It is also likely to be perceived by the listener as that missing “h.”  While some SLPs recommend the "k" substitution, others oppose it for several reasons.

     If you read the passages without their being explained by the SLP you might have thought them a little strange in the vocabulary used and the way some sentences are put together.  But the authors were trying to fit all 48 of the speech sounds and “blends” into as few total words as possible.  This is more clearly evident in the Grandfather Passage, especially in the strange last sentence containing the words “banana oil.” 

    Since these reading passages are used for diagnostic purposes, they should not be practiced.  Instead it is recommended that you read other materials aloud such as books, newspapers, magazines or specific lessons supplied by the SLP which contain the sounds on which you are working.  A tape recorder can provide you with important feedback on your progress. 

    In addition to identifying problem phonemes, the passages are also used to measure reading/speaking speed.  When used for diagnostic purposes you might be asked to read the passage to yourself, and then aloud for one minute in order a to determine a baseline number of words spoken during that time period.  This will be repeated later to measure progress. 

    As you practice reading other materials a stopwatch or kitchen timer can be used to measure your improvement in reading speed.  The typical laryngeal speaker has a rate of from 140 to 185 words per minute, with an average of 165.  So something approximating this may be the goal for a TEP speaker, while an ideal goal for an esophageal speaker might be closer to 120 words per minute.  AL speakers can speak at a very high rate, but intelligibility then becomes an issue.  Proper training with each speaking method can help you maximize your speed while also increasing the chances that you will be understood. 

    The Rainbow and Grandfather passages can be helpful to laryngectomees who utilize any of the three major ways of alaryngeal speaking: esophageal speech, artificial larynx, or TEP prosthesis.  Using a tape recorder and a stopwatch to provide feedback as you practice speaking by reading materials out loud can help you make the most of your next visit to your SLP.  It should come as no surprise that good technique and practice pay off in significantly improved communication skills.

Information Hotline for Laryngectomees

     The Head and Neck Cancer Rehabilitation Institute in Indianapolis has announced a free information hotline which is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. While not a source for medical advice, those who call will receive encouragement, support, general information and recommendations for additional sources of information.  The hotline is manned by Mary Jane Renner, M.S.W. who is a past president of the IAL. The toll free number is 1-800-305-0117.

Lary Laughs

    General Foods announced in Nashville its entry into the laryngectomee supply market when it introduced its new duckbill prosthesis.  According to the manufacturer, after finishing using the prosthesis you can eat it.

Judy (and Dave) can be reached at (

Welcome New Members 

We welcome the 17 new members who joined us in August:

Sharon Andrak
Oak Lawn, IL 
Lloyd Anduha
Denver, CO
Phyllis Kay Bartlett
Louisville, KY
Thomas L. Chenault
Turlock, CA
Don Cockrell
Selma, NC 
Linda Hill
Bath, NY
Patty Jones
Gresham, OR
George Landolt
Audubon, NJ
Anna Palak
Phoenix, AZ 
Vance Redden
Houston, TX
Mary Jane Renner
Indianapolis, IN
James Rosinski
Medina, NY
Janet Shears
Virginia Beach, VA
Bobby Spence
League City, TX
John Strueber
Oxford, MD
Surendra Wagle
Bombay, India
Jodi Wolcott
Jackson, CA

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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