By Dan Coles
“GET STUFFED CANCER” sings this UNBELIEVABLE choir made up of people who don’t have a VOICE BOX
Dr Thomas Moors, 35, from Belgian, started the choir to help people who were struggling with life after a laryngectomy, and they have since performed all over the world.
The inspirational group decided they’d had enough of feeling like they had lost their voice and let cancer take it away from them so now they have had singing lessons, and have performed well over 30 shows in the last three years – telling cancer to SHUT UP.
The results of the choir have changed the lives of its members, giving them a reason to celebrate their voice, and not shy away from it – The group has now just finished a documentary with award winning documentary film maker, and laryngectomy survivor, Bill Brummell, and shows no signs of quieting down any time soon.
Thomas Moors said: “I became particularly intrigued by voice problems after laryngectomy and the difficulty these patients face in their emotional expression, I wondered: ‘Will singing techniques make a difference.
“The effect of breathing and specialised voice exercises helps them to explore and control their voice, combining it with music and poetry has an uplifting effect on their mood.
“A lot has been learned since we started, we have made a spectacular growth as a group and the connection is strong between our members.
“Music has a strong effect in bonding, the group is forced to control their breathing and voices even more; they end up more efficient in speaking and intonation.
“In summary this project intends to take it to the next level and aims to get patients socially interactive in a creative way, whilst improving their
voice, music is a powerful tool and being a choir is a social activity that really boosts their confidence.”
Dr Thomas Moors became interested in voice pathology when he was a junior doctor in 2011, and in 2012, he recruited a collection of professional singers, speech therapists, actors and beatboxers to introduce singing and acting techniques in the voice rehabilitation classes for patients following a laryngectomy.
The choir consists of people all over the UK, and the number of active performers depends on the location of the show, so far, the choir has members in Preston, Norwich, Cambridge, Reading, Basingstoke and London whilst having performed 30 shows in the last three years.
They performed at the international ‘Theatre at the Sea’ festival’, in Belgium, 2017, and have just finished a tour with the Peter Edwards
Jazz Trio in London, Glasgow, Preston and Reading and were on national television in Belgium, France and the U.K, and even won a personal recognition award from the British Prime Minister in 2017.
The Choir had their first show in London, and even had to delay starting due to so many people coming, with a full church of people and a long que still waiting outside. The response has been phenomenal, and, on every occasion, onlookers have shown a mixture of reactions including laughter, tears, applause and cheering.
Thomas Moors said: “Responses are overwhelming, the first concert we had in London had to start late, as we were not expecting that many people, the church was filling up nicely and there was still a big queue waiting outside.
“The audience in general responds warmly and open to the group, you can feel their engagement during the performance.”
Choir member, Ian Bradshaw said: “People are amazed to hear us sing, they are dumbfounded to hear the sound that we make and know the effort it takes so they are very emotional.”
Another member, Jim Brewster said: “They all seem to really enjoy it and are both humbled and very impressed that we can sing so well.”
The aim of their project is to encourage participating patients to become involved with the rehabilitation of others who are less accomplished in their speech and to create opportunities to perform in art.
Dr Moors explains that these activities are not only important to increase awareness and improve public education but also in fundraising for investment in further throat-cancer research and to improve voice rehabilitation and social reintegration after laryngectomy.
The Choir is a unique project where patients can take part in the care of others, whilst they are still improving and maintaining their own communication techniques, voice training also becomes an important free-time activity. At the same time, participants contribute to research, the outcome of which ultimately affects them directly.
Choir member, Sara Brading said: “The group gives me a sense of belonging, being with people that understand me, giving me a sense of achievement, purpose and normality.
“The choir may not be for everyone, but it gave me another chance of life after my Laryngectomy, I had another purpose that I might never of had before.
“I have also met some amazing people that I now consider dear friends. If you can get that out of Cancer, then “up yours” Cancer.”
Dr Moors added: “We aim to inspire the laryngectomy world and show everyone to push the boundaries and question limitations. We do this in a beautiful and entertaining way, we are positive activists.”