Months of chemotherapy and radiation to successfully treat his head, neck and throat cancer impacted the 62-year-old’s voice and swallow function.
“I’ve got this horrible gravelly voice but I’m still a good-looking rooster,” Colin said.
“All jokes aside, receiving the diagnosis was devastating but what I didn’t count on was losing my voice for four months and being tube fed for a period of time. Those are the aspects of cancer most people are not aware of.”
He now regularly attends speech pathology appointments at Mackay Base Hospital to improve his communication and swallow changes, that have seen Colin experience difficulties with social interactions and bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis.
“Right from the start the speech pathologists and dieticians were in my corner telling me what I was going to expect and how I was going to recover from the implications of my cancer treatment,” Colin said.
“I started doing speech therapy sessions to get my voice back and improve my swallow function so I could start to regain the 49 kilograms I had lost during treatment.”
When Colin first completed his treatment, he had difficulties speaking and was required to consume modified food and drinks.
Mackay Base Hospital speech pathologist Brittany Vella has been helping Colin restore his voice and ability to eat food again over the past five months.
“Colin is a man who enjoys a red wine, so it was such a change for him to be on modified drinks,” Brittany said.
To improve his health and quality of life, Brittany and the speech department completed a variety of assessments and supported Colin to engage in treatment targeting his communication and swallowing changes.
Colin completed rehabilitation exercises to strengthen and improve the movement of muscles in his mouth and throat.
“There were many times where I’d had enough but Brittany has been excellent,” Colin said.
“She’s always on to me to do my throat and tongue exercises and about four months ago I turned a corner.
“Thanks to the speech pathologists and other allied health teams, I’m now back at work and about 80% back to normal.”
Speech Pathology Week (23-29 August) aims to raise awareness of communication disability and the important work speech pathologists do to ensure every Australian is communicating with confidence.