The following article was published in The Trend on February 15, 2006.

Hope For Women With Hearing Loss
By Jan L. Apple

When Janet Sandberg of Thorofare underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy in 2001 after a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2000, she knew there would be side effects. She was aware that chemotherapy would cause her hair to fall out buy she never expected hearing loss. Though hearing loss may have been listed in fine print as one of the many possible side effect to the widely used cancer treatment, Sandberg, 50, was devastated to discover that she had become a statistic.

According to Gail A. Angelelli, Au.D., FAAA and Ruth W. Brenner, Au.D., FAAA, Doctors of Audiology of Audiology Partners, LLC in Marlton: “Some chemotherapy drugs can be ototoxic.” Angelelli says that a patient should notify their doctor immediately if they notice hearing loss while in treatment.

According to www.chemocare. Com, “Ototoxic medications are drugs that can cause damage to the inner ear and result in temporary or permanent loss of hearing.” One’s risk for developing ototoxicity “increases as the drug accumulates in your body or from giving high doses of the drug at a time.”

Sandberg says that prior to chemotherapy, she had a 20 percent hearing loss; today it is 60 percent. Over time, Sandberg noticed difficulty with hearing things like a telephone ringing, fire sirens on the roadway or dialogue between actors while sitting in a movie theater.

After five years of struggling and being turned down by health insurance for the purchase of hearing aids and after her cancer recurred twice and she underwent a second lumpectomy, a mastectomy and reconstructive breast surgery, Sandberg says that today she is amazed, elated, ecstatic and grateful that people have come together to help her. She attributes this light at the end of the tunnel to the generosity of the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition, Dr. Angelelli and Brenner and Oticon, a manufacturer of hearing aids.

On Wednesday morning February 1, 1006, Sandberg was in the office of Angelelli and Brenner where they took ear mold impressions to fit her for two advanced digital hearing aids. They were joined by Loretta Mikulski, founder/president for the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition along with several members of the coalition and Sandberg’s lifelong friend, Theresa Loeffler.

The cost of the Oticon Tego Pro hearing aids is $4,200. Mikulski explains that one of the devices is being paid for by the Client Assistance Fund of the coalition. Oticon is donating the second, in response to a request by the audiologists. And Angelelli and Brenner are donating their professional services. “It is the right thing to do,” explained Brenner when asked why they decided to offer their expertise free-of-charge. “There are a lot of people that can’t afford hearing aids. There are a lot of organization that help children and adult what are working. There are very few health insurance plans that cover the cost of hearing aids.

“Hearing loss is exhausting,” continues Brenner. “When you have to go a whole ay leaing forward and paying close attention, by the end of the day you’re exhausted. Studios show that hearing loss can cause depression; it affects people emotionally, physically and psychologically.”

“I can’t wait until I can hear, “beamed Sandberg who had a taste of what that would be like when she visited the doctors this past June in response to an ad offering a free hearing aid demonstration. “They put the hearing aids in and it was remarkable and truly amazing,” recalled Sandberg. “I could hear someone tapping their hands on the desk in the next room. There are a lot of things I don’t do now because I can’t hear. I don’t go to the movies, to church or to social gatherings.”

Mikulski explains that the Client Assistance Fund was established in April 2005 and has already donated over $4,900. “The fund is based solely on financial need and must be breast cancer specific,” said Mikulski, emphasizing that the coalition does not pay for any type of medical treatments.

In 2004, Sandberg went to the Fox Chase Cancer Center. It was there that she says she found a caring physician and social worker and was referred to the coalition. She then applied for the Client Asssistan c Fund.

Loeffler, who has been at Sandberg’s side through it all, said: “Of all the doctors Janet had been to and all the cancer an treatments, no one until now [referring to Fox Chase and the contacts ht ensued] had come forward to try to help her.”

 Because Sandberg’s cancer recurred, she feels strongly that in addition ot mammograms, medical screening should include ultrasounds.

“Mammograms miss 20 percent of all beast tumors.” Explained Mikulski. “Sometimes they are out of the range of the field. This is why they are now doing digital mammography.”

Mikulski stressed that without fund-raisers, they would not be able to help clients like Sandberg…For more information visit the website at www.southhersybbc.org.