March 2018 Yass Tribune
Meet Lucy Masters, a seven-year-old from Yass born with microtia who shared her story on World Hearing Day to help change the lives of others. Children born with microtia have a congenitally small, malformed or absent external ear. With one in six Australians currently affected by hearing loss, which is expected to rise to one in four by 2050, stories like Lucy’s are important to be shared. Lucy and her proud parents are eager to share her story because of how much hearing loss impacted on her life, noting safety as a major concern.
Since receiving her MED-EL Bonebridge Implant, Lucy said she had found crossing the road a lot easier. “I can now hear cars coming up behind me,” she said. The first sounds she noticed when her device was activated were the sound of the cars driving past outside. “It was the best feeling ever. Everything was so clear. It was a very happy moment. My mum cried and told me that she was so happy because it would change my life, and it really has,” she said.
Lucy’s mum, Michelle Lloyd, remembers the day Lucy was born. “The doctors told us she only had one normal ear. “Being first-time parents, we went into panic mode, not knowing what microtia was and more importantly, what future our little girl had. “But we looked down at her little ear and thought it was just beautiful and knew we would do whatever we could,” Ms Lloyd said.
It took a few trips down various paths before finding the road that would ultimately lead to the doors opening up for Lucy. It was a visit to Westmead Children’s Hospital and meeting Associate Professor Catherine Birman, a specialist adult and paediatric cochlear implant surgeon, otologist, and paediatric ENT surgeon. Lucy’s parents credit Professor Birman, as well Lucy’s audiologists at Australian Hearing Canberra, together with the support from other families that made them feel incredibly informed and supported on this journey.
Lucy said her schoolmates think she “looks cool”. “I am no different to anyone else. “I have a Bonebridge [implant] to help me hear. Some kids wear glasses to help them see. We all have something special about us,” she said. Lucy’s passion is dancing and she said she can now “keep in time with the music”. “I love music and dancing as you can express yourself. Hearing my fave songs is just the best,” she said. But more than a passion, dancing is part of Lucy’s hopes and dreams for the future, wanting to become a professional dance teacher and “be able to help other kids with hearing loss that they can live life to the fullest”.
March 2018 Newcastle Herald
It was Valentine’s Day, 2006, when Sue Jenkins lost the strongest link to staying connected.
“Our whole world is based on communication, speech and listening, and I just had none,” she said. “I went from being a hearing person to nothing.” The Cardiff woman went profoundly deaf on that day and was confronted with a $40,000 bill for a cochlear implant to treat her large vestibular aqueduct syndrome. It was a treatment she could not afford. At that time, patients were required to pay the full amount, and no adult had ever had the device surgically implanted in the Hunter. Mrs Jenkins would become the first woman to ever have a cochlear implant installed in Newcastle, but not without a struggle.
The mother-of-four would need to learn how to communicate with only pen and paper. She would have to learn to lip read. Some days, she said, the impact of losing her hearing was so great she couldn’t get out of bed. “It was very dark,” she said. “Losing my hearing was absolutely devastating. I wasn’t myself and that was very hard to get used to.” With a determination to be there for her family, she knew she had to get out of the rut and “do something as quickly as I could”.
“I found the strength to raise the money [for the operation],” she said. “And because of all the amazing people around me I was able to.” Mrs Jenkins was a much-loved staff member at Charlton Christian College in Fassifern. The school community rallied around her. A little more than a year later and Mrs Jenkins had the money to receive the cochlear implant, which was provided by the newly opened Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre Newcastle, a service of the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children.
“Two weeks later they switched it on … the first words I heard were my husband asking what was for dinner,” she joked. Mrs Jenkins said being able to hear again “gave back my life”.
She now works as a chaplain in aged care and uses her experience to help bring people out of dark places. “What I want to do is offer people hope,” she said. “People supported me and I want to support others. People go into dark places and that happens, but there is someone out there who cares for you.”
Mrs Jenkins is an advocate for healthy hearing and encourages people to get their ears regularly checked. “My message is to look after your hearing,” she said. “You don’t know how important it is until you’ve lost it.”
March 2018 Kalgoorlie Miner
For International Women’s Day, professional speaker and story-teller Lisa Evans travelled to Kalgoorlie from Perth to speak at the Supper at Sunset event. “For me, it is a day of celebrating everything that is wonderful about women,” she said. “It’s also a time where we can reflect and think about those women who have gone before us and who have made great sacrifices towards equality.” She said her own success in life came after a long and challenging journey, having started out as a nurse and midwife.
Lisa Evans says losing her hearing forced her to re-invent herself at a later stage in life
“It was my dream job ... then 12 years ago, a virus destroyed a significant amount of my hearing,” she said. “It wasn’t therefore practical to work in my area. I’d specialised in neonatal intensive care, a very high-tech, challenging and demanding area of nursing.”
Her loss of hearing forced her to leave nursing, she said, but a cochlear implant led to an interest in speaking. “In losing my hearing, I sort of discovered my voice,” she said. “I’d gone through a period of feeling very isolated. I often describe deafness as an invisible disability because people don’t realise how debilitating it is.” She said she hoped her influence as a speaker could empower other women, and that women were silent achievers. “We often don’t take the time to stop and recognise or celebrate our achievements,” she said. “We simply just do what we do without any fanfare or without any expectation of any praise or recognition.”
March 2018 Cochlear
Aspirational mathematician and educator Hugh Entwistle wowed the jury panel last year and was unanimously selected as the 2017 Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship winner. The 20-year-old from Sydney is so passionate about mathematics and how it can be applied to the world that he is currently undergoing a Bachelor of Advanced Science Degree, majoring in Mathematics and Statistics, and will start a Degree of Actuarial Studies this year. “The glory of mathematics and how it can be applied in financial markets and probability was the main reason for my pursuit of a degree in Actuarial Studies, and I aim to finish university with a deep knowledge of how mathematical systems work and behave, and how to take advantage of them in my personal and professional life”, says Hugh.
Hugh has had his Cochlear™ implant for as long as he can remember, and lived life knowing that there may have been another reality where he wouldn’t hear sound. This acts as a constant motivator to push him further and succeed. “I applied for the 2017 Cochlear Graeme Clark scholarship to further build upon my life, to give back to the Cochlear community as a representative and, I would hope, a source of inspiration for others and for parents deciding which path they wish to pursue”.
It is apparent Hugh is an ambitious young man who not only wants to do something extraordinary with his life, but also be a mentor to others. He has managed to turn what should’ve been the daunting task of managing ambitions into sheer excitement and willpower.
“As an individual, profoundly deaf and with Usher’s syndrome, I am extraordinarily thankful for the opportunity that the Cochlear implant has given me, and I am dependent on it for the success that I have achieved. The Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship is the most humbling award that I have received. It embodies and acknowledges a more personal journey of hardship and disability and forces me to reflect on my roots – on how my current path of success has been fundamentally a result of the miracle of the Cochlear implant, and of the support that I have received from friends, family and inspirational teachers that I have been lucky enough to meet on the way. Both the financial support and endorsement that the scholarship provides will allow me to more boldly pursue my ambitions and advanced studies in mathematics, taking me steps closer to my dream of spreading and utilising the art of mathematics in education and business”.