“Voiceless yet unmistakably Soulful”- A story of grit and determination

NATIONAL ANTHEM SUNG BY LARYNGECTOMEE INDIVIDUALS Made into India Book of Record . Every one of them underwent laryngectomy, a surgical procedure in which voice box is removed because of throat cancer at Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital, Hyderabad.

·               A story of grit and determination

·               16 Laryngectomees sang the National Anthem.

New Delhi 25 April 2019 – In a phenomenal gathering of individuals who underwent laryngectomy, a surgical procedure in which voice box is removed due of cancer of throat have sung National Anthem and this feat has made the India Book of Records.

In few patients suffering from Head and Neck Cancers, Oncologists are required to perform Laryngectomy that removes larynx making it difficult for them to produce sound leading to their inability to talk.  In order to provide solace to these patients, doctors advise speech therapy with the help of devices.  This lengthy process of therapy is provided for patients to regain their voice.

In order to build confidence and to create further awareness on the benefits of the program, the survivors could not find a better occasion than the Independence Day to showcase their triumph over the disability of speech by performing the National Anthem. Similar events have been conducted at the Institute on a regular basis.

20-odd gathering of individuals has been rehearsing the national anthem prior to performing. All of them underwent voice box removal surgery in the last five years and most of them are reformed smokers with chronic smoking in the past.  A couple of ladies, as well, are a part of the gathering. Though they lost their natural voice, the condition has not deterred them from losing hope. Some utilized an electro-larynx, a hand-held device pressed on to the throat to generate artificial voice,  while others squeezed their thumbs to their necks to generate voice through a Tracheas-esophageal fistula along with an embedded device.

“To try and deliver sound without the larynx is troublesome. The sub-glottal limit in people without larynx is not exactly 50% of an individual with the organ. It implies if an individual can regularly say 10 words before coming up short on breath, one without the larynx may just have the capacity to state five,” says Mr T.M. Rukmangathan, the speech-language pathologist at Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute. 

Dr. Chandra Sekhar Rao, a senior head and neck oncosurgeon at the Institute said the gathering chose to sing to demonstrate that incapacity can be conquered. The fear of losing voice discourages those influenced by similar diseases to undergo the surgery, similar remarkable feats by the individuals who underwent surgery restores faith in newly diagnosed patients.

 P.S.S.V. Prasad Rao, a 48-year-old survivor who works as a common contractual worker in Hyderabad, shares “ I have always been very positive about being able to talk, sing and listen to my own voice again. We have practised the song a few times and have received enough training to pull it off. I am highly motivated.”

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