In 2009 Pat Timoney had a laryngectomy after developing a recurrent cancer of the voicebox. After overcoming many obstacles such as learning to breathe again through a stoma and speak again through a voice valve, Pat then set his sights on a new challenge - to help others who are in a similar situation by becoming a patient ambassador. Roganie Govender, Consultant Speech & Language Therapist remembers him.
“I first met Pat when he had his initial radiotherapy more than 15 years ago, and again when he had his laryngectomy surgery. Pat was one of the first members of the Central London Laryngectomy club, which meets every two months at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre.
The group provides support for people who have had a laryngectomy and provides tips on how to cope with the unique challenges these patients face. He and his wife Doreen became regular attendees.
Having a laryngectomy is a visible change. Pat had to learn to adjust to a new way of being – breathing through a hole in his neck (called a stoma), learning to speak with a voice valve and adapting to eating softer foods.
Despite these challenges, Pat was always positive and this shone through when he participated in the “buddying programme” and became a fantastic patient ambassador at UCLH. He met with new patients about to undergo similar surgery to answer questions and help alleviate their anxieties. He also volunteered to share his experiences of being a laryngectomee with trainee speech and language therapists and nurses at City University London and UCLH.
Pat had links with the City of London running group, the 23 Mile Club, and helped to raise close to £5,000 during London marathons for the running of the laryngectomy support group and network.
The group greatly miss him but will always remember him and will be ever thankful for his fantastic support. They are also grateful for the donations received in Pat’s memory from family and friends who attended his funeral on 1 March 2018.”
If you or a family member has had a laryngectomy, you can find out more about the club HERE.
“I was 13 years old when Dad first got cancer and when it came back 13 years later and we found out he had to have a laryngectomy it was quite a daunting and scary time. So when Dad told me about the patient support club starting up, it was the perfect charity to raise money for and to put forward. To have a support group for people like dad is I think extremely important as it’s a life changing operation which affects both the person going through it and the family.”