Sharing your story to help others


Laryngectomy patients go through a lifechanging surgery that will alter not only the way they talk, but the way they breathe, eat and live their lives. Our donors have helped make that process be a little easier on some of our indigenous patients through incredible generosity.

A laryngectomy is the removal of the voice box, in most cases to treat head and neck cancer. Following the procedure, a patient will be left with a hole in the front of their throat called a stoma.

This procedure is life-altering in many ways and therefore patients at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital are given the opportunity to meet a laryngectomy patient of a similar age and gender to them to get a better understanding of not only the procedure and treatments proceeding it, but how you can still live a very full life after a laryngectomy, says senior speech pathologist, Mel Sonsee.

“We noticed there was a big gap however, and that was that our indigenous patients were more often than not rurally based and so access to a patient for our indigenous cohort was not possible.

“We decided some culturally appropriate resources were a way of bridging this gap, and so we produced a video with an indigenous patient of ours, Rosie. The video is the first laryngectomy resource developed specifically for Aboriginal patients and will be available throughout Australia.

“Rosie had a laryngectomy in 2014, she is based in Wyndham, and helped us out in telling her story so we could share it with other indigenous laryngectomy patients” says Mel.

“After my surgery I was really scared. I couldn’t eat, I was tube fed, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t shower,” says Rosie.

Rosie shared her journey from the initial diagnosis of throat cancer to the stage where she could finally go home after therapy and radiation.

“When I went back home, I looked at myself and said ‘nah, it’s got to be a new me, the old me was gone – having this here [the surgery and stoma] really has changed my life,” she says.

Rosie now lives her life the way she would have before her surgery, with a few minor differences.

“I can still do all the same things I used to do, play guitar, play keyboard, do my gardening, party, go shopping, go travelling, visit my families, hunting, camping.”

“I do everything except swimming and singing,” she says with a laugh.