Meet Shirley

Shirley shares her story and experience of having a laryngectomy and tell us how this doesn’t stop her living a fulfilled life.


Shirley Pedrick went through a life changing operation, a total laryngectomy, during lockdown back in December 2020 after noticing her voice had changed six months prior, in May 2020.

She made the decision to book herself a doctor’s appointment and was referred to the hospital for an MRI scan, but this didn’t show anything serious.  Due to Covid-19 restrictions it took a long time to be seen so by the time her routine appointment came round in November, Shirley noticed she became breathless whilst going up and down the stairs and when she was out and about.

After her check-up the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) team told Shirley she had breathing difficulties and wasn’t fit to go home, this resulted in her having an emergency tracheostomy the next morning.

During the operation, the ENT team took a biopsy and started to treat her for Miller Fishers Syndrome, but Shirley wasn’t getting any better. After two weeks of treatment, she found out that she had stage 4 throat cancer, and they would be operating in December 2020.

10 hours later, the doctors phoned her husband and told them both that they had managed to remove all the cancer and were hopeful of a full recovery.

Shirley Pedrick in a hospital bed

Shirley had a few issues with her calcium levels and ended up having a further operation a week later and spent 5 days in critical care to drain fluid from her neck which had built up. Finally, after 7 weeks in hospital Shirley was discharged to go home at the end of December.

A few months later in February and March 2021, Shirley went through 30 sessions of radiotherapy and had 5 sessions of chemotherapy over 6 weeks.

During the early days of her recovery, she struggled to clean her stoma and ended up in A&E several times because of mucus plugs but soon started to get used to it.

She couldn’t speak for 5 months and always carried a whiteboard with her, making it extremely hard to communicate with others. More so, her stoma was small which meant she struggled to get adhesives to fit her properly, so she always had an air leak.

To help her overcome this, she had to work hard to expand her stoma and found the Provox Life range helpful. She currently uses the Provox Life Go HME, has mastered the Handsfree HME helping her to talk freely as well as the Provox Life Night HME to help with her breathing at night.

Shirley hasn’t let this challenge define her life and 9 months after her operation she has found her passion for line dancing and Pilates again and has welcomed her first grandchild to the family!

Shirley and her husband have always loved travelling and they have continued to do so and most recently travelled to South Africa where they explored the country, went on a safari, and visited Cape Town harbour.

She says, “I have been very lucky, I have an amazing family who have always been so supportive, they are my rocks. A laryngectomy does change your life but is not a death sentence”.

Shirley Pedrick, standing looking at the camera, holding holding a glass of fizz