Courage Winner Dianne

Imagine never being able to tell someone that you love them. Never being able to voice how much you appreciate your loved ones and how they have changed your life for the better. It is something that most of us take for granted. Dianne Cooper spent her life voicing her love to her family, but a medical curveball has permanently changed the way that she communicates. With the help of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Dianne has found ways to break down barriers and learned a new way to communicate with others.

Six years ago Dianne went in for surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes in her neck. A 10-hour procedure took a turn for the worse; the cancer had spread further than doctors had anticipated and they had to be aggressive in their approach to save Dianne’s life. When she woke up she discovered that doctors removed her thyroid gland, larynx and most of her tongue. For anyone this would be devastating, but for Dianne, a public speaker and entrepreneur, the realization that she had lost the ability to talk felt like the end of her world.

When she arrived at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to begin recovery, Dianne could only communicate through written notes. At the Glenrose, she found her voice again thanks to technology.

Speech Language Pathologist, Brittani Adamson, helped Dianne choose an app to be her voice on a tablet, helping her written notes come to life. In their first session it was clear to Brittani that Diane would work hard and that the next time they met she would master her new voice.

“Rather than allowing the many barriers faced during rehabilitation to defeat her, Dianne and her husband Keith approached each challenge with determination and grace. Dianne is an inspirational self-advocate for her communication rights and needs; and through her perseverance and openness to accept change, Dianne has become a strong role model for all augmentative and alternative communication users.” – Brittani Adamson

After radiation, chemotherapy and three more surgeries, Dianne’s body has been through a lot. The Cooper household isn’t quite what it used to be without Dianne’s original voice, but her whole family is now getting used to their new normal. Despite the challenges, Dianne found the courage to embrace her new voice.

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