Gary Foree suffers from hearing loss, but that doesn’t stop him. Neither did stage four cancer.
Matter of fact, he says “cancer saved my life.”
Six years ago, Foree lost the ability to eat, drink and speak with the extensive surgery required to remove his cancer. The odds were not in his favor either way, with or without cancer treatment, including radiation. He had lost hope and decided not to receive treatments. Then one conversation with a speech therapist at SSM Health Cancer Center sparked the hope he needed.
Foree received the treatment and with determination and will power, he survived. He says he discovered many things about himself during his cancer journey — sometimes it’s all about attitude.
“I think I’m happier now than I was before I got cancer,” Foree said. “Everything became much more important to me, I learned to not sweat the small stuff, and that giving back is key.”
He describes how things, like spending time with his family, watching the sunrise or set, working on his farm, and enjoying nature, mean so much more to him than they used to. Today, he gives back by helping other cancer patients and their families as a patient advocate at SSM Health.
Foree worked with heavy equipment most of his life and had hearing loss before being diagnosed with cancer. However, cancer treatments caused his hearing loss to become much more severe. Foree said everything happens for a reason. He was on a job at a residential home and needed to ask the owner a question. That owner turned out to be Tiffany Davis, owner of Miracle-Ear Midwest, a franchise with locations in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, and Kansas.
Davis instantly recognized Foree was having issues hearing and discovered he had lost his health insurance during his cancer journey. She acted quickly to remedy the situation.
Foree received a pair of gifted prescriptive hearing aids from Miracle-Ear. Now, his hearing loss no longer hinders his ability to communicate and help others along their own cancer journey.
Hear Gary Foree’s story by listening to The Advocates podcast below.
Hearing Loss and Cancer Treatments
Cancer treatment can be a stressful and challenging time for an individual and their family. Large amounts of information can come at patients hard and fast after a cancer diagnosis, including any negative side effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
One possible side effect often overlooked is hearing loss.
Cancer treatments can cause damage to the inner ear. This damage is often irreversible.
Some chemotherapy and radiation treatments carry a higher risk of hearing loss than others and individual reactions can vary with different treatment types. It is important to talk to your doctor about risk factors and the possibility of negative outcomes.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis and preparing for cancer treatments can not only be disruptive to a person’s routine but can turn their lives upside down. Hearing loss is a potential side effect, but many may not know about it, or it is simply an afterthought with so many other considerations. However, there is a simple step to ensure hearing loss can be detected early.
Scheduling a comprehensive hearing examination before starting cancer treatments is one of the best ways to monitor for any negative side effects to a cancer patient’s hearing. This initial testing allows a baseline to be established and is essential to identify changes in hearing with follow-up testing.
If an adult or child develops treatable hearing loss, it is important to remember the condition is manageable and does not mean life has to be diminished.
Today’s advanced technology offers a wide range of solutions for mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss. Modern hearing aids are smaller, more powerful, produce superior speech clarity, and offer greater convenience than ever before. And hearing aid models are virtually invisible while wearing them. Technology will continue to advance and improve solutions for hearing loss in the future.
Hearing loss is important to overall wellbeing and helps us stay connected to the people around us. If left untreated, hearing loss can cause depression, withdrawal, anxiety, social isolation, cognitive decline, and balance issues with risk of falls and injury.
To learn more about hearing loss and solutions, download the free Consumer’s Guide to Hearing aids.