A cancer diagnosis is hard enough to deal with, but for Diane there was an unexpected, life-changing side-effect of cancer treatment: hearing loss.
While Diane was receiving chemotherapy, it permanently damaged her hearing almost straight away and she struggled to hear her doctors.
“Because I was so sick from other reactions to the chemotherapy, I ended up in hospital in intensive care. At the time, the biggest problem was that I couldn’t hear what the doctors were saying to me about my condition and the treatment.
“I had to say to one doctor, ‘look, I’m really sorry, but I can’t hear a word you’re saying’.
“He then yelled back at me ‘Can you hear me now!’. That’s when I started crying – losing my hearing wasn’t something that I needed on top of my cancer diagnosis.”
Once Diane was discharged from hospital and returned home, she struggled to hear her husband, and also couldn’t hear what family and friends were saying on the phone.
“I didn’t realise that I was doing it at the time, but I was almost part-guessing what people were saying and pretending to understand.”
Diane was so sick from the chemotherapy, her hearing loss seemed like the least of her worries at the time.
But as the reality of her hearing loss set in, Diane realised how much it would affect her life.
At just 61, Diane had been working as a nurse until her diagnosis, but she was told she wouldn’t be able to continue working if she couldn’t hear her patients.
“If you can’t hear your patients, you can’t do your job.”
Diane couldn’t afford new hearing aids – but there was a pair waiting for her
Diane had a hearing test at the oncology ward at Monash Health, and staff there told her about the Recycled Sound program, which helps improve the lives of Australians with hearing loss.
Diane wasn’t sure if she’d be eligible, but she got a phone call from a Recycled Sound volunteer with the good news that she could join the program.
Diane had been out of work for a year while having cancer treatment, and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to afford Bluetooth hearing aids. Luckily, a pair of Bluetooth hearing aids had been donated to the Recycled Sound program.
Chamini, a volunteer audiologist from Blamey Saunders hears, helped her try on some hearing aids.
“Chamini had a pair donated to the program and was waiting to find someone who would benefit from them – which was lucky enough to be me.
How hearing aids changed Diane’s life
Those donated hearing aids have improved Diane’s life dramatically, enabling her to hear conversations and work again.
“I can now actually be a part of a conversation with others without pretending that I know what they are saying.
“The Recycled Sound program has literally changed my life. Cancer took it away from me, but Blamey Saunders hears and Recycled Sound gave it back to me.”
Wearing hearing aids also means Diane can work again – and that’s been the biggest game changer of all, she says.
“I’m now back being a nurse one day a week and going to build up to more days when I can. This is the most important impact the hearing aids have had on my life.”
Diane’s advice: don’t delay getting help
Now, Diane urges anyone with hearing loss to seek help straight away.
“Don’t delay it – just do it! Even if you feel too sick to get help, or have other stressful things going on, it will make your life so much easier and better for the long run.
“I have no hesitation in telling someone to get help if they are experiencing any level of hearing loss.
“Don’t put up with hearing loss, because you won’t know the change getting help will make until you do it.”