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”.
Feb 2018 Illawarra Mercury
When Matilda Linturn, 1, was born a test immediately showed she was not able to hear as well as other children. But not having complete hearing loss meant there was limited support available to help her integrate with other children and become ready for school. The Shepherd Centre is one not-for-profit organisation that has developed programs to help children such as Tilly. In 2017 it sought ways to do more of that. It succeeded when IMB Bank gave it enough funding to help 28 families like the Linturn’s in NSW.
Andrew and Jane Linturn expressed how grateful they were to find such support for their fourth child after being referred by Australian Hearing. “The Shepherd Centre has been an amazing blessing to our family,” Mrs Linturn said. “It was a traumatic time at the start to find out our baby had a hearing loss. To find such supportive and encouraging staff was just so reassuring. We can’t speak highly enough of the Shepherd Centre. We are so thankful.” Senior audiologist Shellie Lavery said without that funding IMB Bank’s community foundation is providing some children such as Tilly who would fall through the cracks. “At the Shepherd Centre we are a charity organisation. Even though we do obtain some support from the NDIS we still really do depend on support from others such as IMB Bank to allow us to run all the programs we have,” Ms Lavery said. “The programs aim to give children who have hearing loss or a hearing impairment a chance to reach their full potential. Children who do not receive such support may not.”
IMB Bank is presently helping prepare more than two dozen children such as Tilly to be able to attend a mainstream school and participate in classes with other children. The Halfway Hear program helps children with partial hearing loss (unilateral or mild bilateral) and may be ineligible for government support. The Shepherd Centre applied for IMB Bank funding last year to provide early intervention support programs to partially deaf children and their families.
Philanthropic help: Andrew, Matilda (Tilly) and Jane Linturn with Shepherd Centre audiologist Shellie Lavery.
Halfway Hear provides education, assessments, therapy and support through an online training program and face-to-face sessions. The first part of the program is called Talk Together. Families can access the online training modules at home and or come into the Shepherd Centre where they can be assessed and benefit from audiology and other services from the team working there. Matilda has done both.
Children with more significant hearing loss are generally able to access more funded services than those with mild hearing loss. “Our aim is to enable the child to hear as best they can and increase their chance of integration. We want to offer the service to everyone,” Ms Lavery said. The whole program has been designed so it can be done online because the Shepherd Centre knows there are many children in regional and remote areas who may find it hard getting to one of its five centres in NSW. Mrs Linturn said the program was good for her and her husband as well.
Five families come to the Shepherd Centre in Wollongong for the program and they quickly met other parents of children with a hearing loss. “That was really encouraging. You don’t feel so isolated,” she said. “Tilly immediately then joined playgroup and music time which she absolutely loves. She always gets really involved in music. We bought her some instruments for Christmas because that is something she is passionate about. She just loves coming here. The girls are so lovely. The big thing you are concerned about when you have a child with unilateral hearing loss is how is it going to affect their life. It can effect their speech. And of course you don’t want your child to be bullied at school which can happen. So having that early intervention and the ability to develop her speech early we hope she will be able to go to school and just be like everybody else. That is our goal.”
Tilly is already starting to say her first words. The first one was “dad”.