Marie Lamarr

My journey began in 1974 when my doctor felt a lump in my throat during a routine exam. Tests revealed a small nodule.

This diagnosis was not a surprise since all of the women in my family (including great-grandma) had thyroid goiters. It was decided that I would just watch this lump and monitor it every couple of years.

In 2015, I started experiencing several incidents of extreme acid reflux which caused me to lose my voice and required many months of medication. By 2017, I noticed shortness of breath at times, but was told this was a result of the acid reflux.

My life changed dramatically on May 26, 2019. I had taken a few days off from work to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, during that time, my breathing became so labored that my family took me to the emergency room on Sunday morning. I was diagnosed with double pneumonia and a huge tumor on my thyroid.

I loved my voice and enjoyed talking to everyone. My entire family vowed to learn sign language

I was put into the ICU, and literally given a second chance to live. The tumor was so extensive and had invaded my larynx that I had to have a total laryngectomy.

Trust me, this was not an easy decision for me to make. At first, I decided not to have the surgery. I loved my voice and enjoyed talking to everyone. My entire family vowed to learn sign language. The doctors were also so supportive and understood my despair, but assured me my life would continue and I had many years of living ahead. Being a woman of deep faith, it was time to practice my faith.

The care, honesty and positive attitude of everyone truly got me through this

After going through 31 days of radiation (5 days a week) and healing from that, many scans and radioactive iodine therapy (3 days of complete isolation), and almost 6 months of no voice, I was finally able to use the voice prosthesis, or TEP, which had been inserted 4 months earlier in August.

One morning, in my apartment building I tried saying “good morning” to my neighbor, but nothing came out. She pointed to my throat and said innocently “maybe you need to push the button”. Since that day, whenever I feel sad, I just smile and remember “to push the button”.

I cannot thank the entire staff and all of the hospital workers enough, all of whom I now consider part of my family. The care, honesty and positive attitude of everyone truly got me through one of the darkest periods of my life.