ANCHORAGE, Alaska—As if a malignant tumor isn't enough to change your life, what if the surgery to remove the tumor destroyed one of your vocal cords leaving you without a voice?
That’s what happened last year to David Fox.
“I was diagnosed with a Thymomid Tumor in my chest, which is a rare type of tumor,” said Fox.
The expectation was that it would be benign, but when they opened up Fox's chest the tumor had wrapped itself around several of his organs.
“Removed half of the lobe of my left lung, the phrneit nerve, the current laryngeal nerve,” explained Fox.
But unfortunately, they accidentally harmed one of his laryngeal nerves.
“So for the first three months after the operation, all I could do was whisper,” Fox said.
Despite the mistake, Fox was grateful to be alive.
Three days later he met with Dr. Steve Schaffer who used this state-of-the-art rhino laryngeal stroboscope to find a solution.
“It uses the strobe and uses tiny light flashes and it slows down the appearance of the vocal cords to where you can see them in slow motion and allows us to diagnose very subtle abnormalities of the vocal cord that you wouldn't otherwise see,” said Schaffer.
In a recent check up, Schaffer was able to diagnose the problem.
“So when that cord doesn’t work, the other cord is not able to close the gap. So the vocal cords don’t vibrate and that’s why he had no voice at all,” said Schaffer.
For Fox it was a diagnosis he needed in order to gain his voice back.
Once Schaffer knew what was going on he knew the fix.
“We made an incision on the neck and a tiny window was made inside the voice box and a little tiny silicon prosthetic was placed in there to push the vocal cord over to the midline so that the cord could close to it and his voice became much more normal,” said Schaffer.
Fox has his voice back, and the rhino laryngeal stroboscope is to thank.
Now Fox is still learning how to speak with full breath, but really after everything he's been through he's thankful to be alive and he said the most difficult part of his recovery is not being able to work out like he used to because he has half the breath he used to have.