Patients at Cwm Taf University Health Board who have undergone treatment for cancer which has left them unable to speak, have been loaned ipads to help them communicate. The iPads purchased with monies donated by members of the public is a huge asset in the recovery of patients.
Fifty seven year old Tom Smith has recently undergone treatment for oral cancer - a glosso-laryngectomy - which means he is left permanently unable to speak.
Tom who lives with his wife Anne in Pontypool was diagnosed with oral cancer in April 2014 and shortly after diagnosis, started treatment. Tom says: “Being in hospital for a few months I was encouraged to try the ipad that they loan out to patients with the pre-installed apps to help them communicate. This works by typing what you want to say and the app speaks your words.”
Realising that this was something that he could find beneficial Tom purchased his own ipad. Tom says: “I never used an iPad before my operation but it’s a good idea to have choices to communicate as pen and paper are fine but some people can’t read my writing.” Tom jokes.
“Ideally I would have recorded my own voice as the pre-installed voice doesn’t sound anything like mine, but there was a problem recording it. So, I have had my brother Eric’s voice recorded. This way I haven’t completely lost my identity. Tom was brought up in Ayrshire in Scotland so the accent is quite different to the one that comes with the standard app.
“I’m just a one finger user at the moment but I’m keen to get familiar with it so that hopefully I can use it more efficiently at work.” Tom has worked for Zenith Media in Pontypool for three and a half years and is eager to get back to work.
Jane Wall, Macmillan Cancer Head and Neck Specialist Nurse said: “We are delighted to have purchased three ipads which will help some of our patients who have undergone throat surgery to communicate. There are apps available which we have pre-installed onto the ipads making them easily accessible. It's difficult enough coming to terms with any illness without the added frustration of not being able to communicate; the ipads will be a great asset to the department and a great aid to the recovery of our patients.”