Michelle shares her story and experience on having a tracheostomy and tells us how this does not stop her living life to it’s fullest!

In December 2020, Michelle went through a life changing operation, a tracheostomy after noticing a small thump (size of a pea) in her throat. After visiting the dentist, who thought the lump was caused by her wisdom tooth but further appointments with the doctor resulted in being diagnosed with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Michelle didn’t realise at the time, but December 2020 was going to be her last Christmas meal. After weeks of struggling to eat and swallow, Michelle soon deteriorated and walked around with a cup in her hand as she kept having to spit, so went back to speak to the doctors.

Suddenly, Michelle’s voice changed and after having more tests she was finally diagnoses with throat cancer. Unfortunately, on a scale of 1-4, doctors told Michelle it was a 5, it was one of the largest tumours they had ever seen which meant she needed an emergency tracheostomy and to go into palliative care.

Michelle Lord tracheostomy patient

Michelle’s life completely changed when she woke up from surgery, she had no voice and as it was Covid-19 at the time meant she couldn’t see her family or friends on the ward which made this experiment even more traumatic.

She said, “I didn’t know what was going on, I had loads of secretion, so I had to learn how use a suction machine, I had a cuffed tube and a feeding tube through my nose, I started calling myself the nelly the elephant because when I took my mask off the tube started swinging.”

Michelle was finally allowed to go home. She started a 6-week course of intensive chemotherapy treatment, and if that wasn’t enough, she also caught Covid as well.

Michelle with bib

Michelle said, “When I arrived home, I did not understand what I was meant to do, I got all these boxes and parcels, and I was like wow it’s Christmas and it was from Atos. I loved it! I got my wash bag it was like a goodie bag, I soon found out what I needed to do, got creams, bibs, and loads of stuff.”

She continued… “I didn’t know how I was going to cope or survive but you Atos knew, and this is what you guys put in place for me when I got home which meant a lot. I also got a phone call from Atos I had someone checking in on me, it felt like you cared which is what you need in this situation and to this day I speak with a lovely girl, her name’s Georgia and I absolutely adore her.”

Before her cancer diagnosis, Michelle had two holidays booked and lost both of those due to her needing emergency treatment, but she is soon made up for this and has a holiday planned to Tunisia to celebrate her friends 50th birthday and has been learning how to speak Spanish with her voice she has been lucky to get back.

Not only that but she has recently been raving at the Ministry of Sounds 30th Birthday Bash in London, where she has been able to enjoy her love for music again!

Moving forward there are also plans for Michelle to have her tracheostomy removed as her tumour has reduced massively and she hasn’t had to have treatment since October 2022.

Michelle Lord's, family photo

We asked Michelle what advice she would give to someone going through this and her words were, “Have a positive mindset in whatever way you can, even if you have a dark sense of humour, do whatever you can to keep your spirits up and don’t be afraid to ask for help or question things. Utilise anything and everything available as there’s so much support out there, e.g. the Maggy Centre support group. Know one does understand what you are going through so talk to like-minded people who might understand.”

Michelle Lord walking photo

If you are going though or about to go through a tracheostomy, please reach out to our friendly team of staff who are here to support you. Contact us by calling 0800 783 1659, text 0753 741 7928 or complete an enquiry form on our website here Atos Care | Laryngectomy Supplies | Tracheostomy Supplies (atos-care.co.uk) and someone will be in touch.