In 1999, René Foreman was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She underwent surgery that saved her life but also took her voice.
Today, René speaks using an electrolarynx–a small device that produces an electronic voice when she holds it against her throat.
René sat down for an interview with her daughter Michelle.
Click here for the transcript.
René Foreman (RF): It aggravates me. I was in the gym the other day and I was talking to somebody. And there was a woman, and she turned around and she said at the top of her voice, "What's that funny sound?" And I turned around, with my hands on my hips. I said, "That's me." And she wanted to shrink into the ground. I felt so good.
MF: That's one thing that I love about you. You do still stick up for yourself.
RF: I am not a shrinking violet but you know, there's some good sides. When people phone me to solicit and I say, "hello?" they think I'm playing a joke on them and there's this long silence.
MF: You told me that when you answered they said, "Is this a computer that I'm speaking to?" And you said, "Yes."
RF: People are really very kind once they realize what the situation is. I may go into a restaurant once, and if I go back there a year later, and it's the same woman at the front desk, she'll say, "Where have you been? We haven't seen you for a while." So I feel like a movie star.
I remember the night before my operation. I was scared. I asked you to stay and you slept in the bed with me in the hospital. And then you left New York to come and be with me for a year. How did you feel about leaving your job and your friends and your life?
MF: I--I didn't even think twice about it.
RF: I'm really very blessed in my life. I am happier now without my voice than I've ever been with my voice. It's a small price to pay for being alive and enjoying life, so I am very happy where I am now.