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Learning to Live with TEP - Speech Therapy

It was five years ago when John Cardillo was diagnosed with throat cancer. “I woke up in the morning with a big lump in my throat. I didn’t know what it was. So I went to the doctor, and he told me I had stage three cancer.” After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, John thought he was in the clear, but three years later, the cancer was back. John made the choice to undergo surgery to remove the cancer—but it would also mean removing his voice box. “I was a little shocked. It was kind of either you do it, or you don’t. I think you mentally have to be prepared, and you have to fight. You can’t give up,” said John. Today, John uses a special device to help him communicate called a tracheal esophageal puncture or TEP for short. “The head and neck cancer surgeon goes in and makes a hole between the trachea and the esophagus, and they insert this little prosthesis,” explained Stacey Brill, a speech therapist with Lee Health. Brill works with patients like John immediately after surgery to help them adjust to their new way of life. “It is life-altering. You are taking away their ability to voice. But they will tell you, there’s life after a laryngectomy. They are living. They are playing golf. They’re working. They’re doing things that they enjoy doing,” she said. Teaching patients a new way to communicate. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit