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'It is really quite alien': Man who had his voice box removed shares experience ahead of film

PUBLISHED: 11:40 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:12 17 April 2019

Andrew Beaumont of Beccles who is singing with the choir at the Shout at Cancer Christmas Concert, after having a laryngectomy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Andrew Beaumont of Beccles who is singing with the choir at the Shout at Cancer Christmas Concert, after having a laryngectomy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A man who underwent a 16-hour surgery to have his voice box removed after cancer has shared his experience and detailed the social and psychological trauma following the operation.

Andrew Beaumont(right) from Beccles, pictured with award-winning documentary film make Bill Brummel.Andrew Beaumont(right) from Beccles, pictured with award-winning documentary film make Bill Brummel.

Andrew Beaumont from Beccles underwent a laryngectomy which is the surgical removal of the larynx.

After his surgery in 2013, he had to learn how to eat and talk again.

During the procedure, the windpipe is brought out through a hole in the front of the neck and stops the connection from the lungs to the mouth. Patients are then forced to breathe through the neck.

In order to talk, Mr Beaumont presses down on a button which has been fixed to his neck, it then pushes on a valve which connects the rear of the windpipe with the oesophagus. When the hole in his neck is closed off he is able to speak in a raspy voice.

He said: “You can't breathe and talk at the same time, you can't breathe and eat at the same time.

“It is dynamic - what happens is really quite alien because you physically and emotionally reject it.

“Your identity is tied up in the sound of your voice, you can't raise pitch - people don't know if you are angry or if you are sad and all that is tied up into your identity.”

Despite his operation, Mr Beaumont performs in a laryngectomy choir called Shout at Cancer which is made up of people who have had the invasive surgical procedure.

He has also re-established the Norfolk and north Suffolk Laryngectomy Club to provide support to 90 people across the region who have had their larynx removed.

Award-winning documentary producer, Bill Brummel travelled to UK to meet with five members - including Mr Beaumont to document their experience following the life-altering surgery.

The 63-year-old, whose films ordinarily focus on human rights for channels such as Discovery and A&E, was urged make the documentary after he underwent the surgery in 2016.

He hoped to shine a light on the mental anguish and social despair some feel following the surgery.

He said: “It is more personal than other projects I have done.”

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