Four-year-old UK girl, Ellie Dixon, is preparing to start
school, but her mother Rachel Lynch says, she fears her daughter will struggle,
drowned out by her classmates.
The little girl faces a daily battle to be heard, only able
to whisper after suffering a potentially lethal vocal condition. Ellie was diagnosed with respiratory papillomas shortly
after she was born in 2010. The disease causes non-cancerous tumours to grow on
the vocal cords and voice box which means the four-year-old suffers regular
operations to remove them.
Without regular operations the lumps could grow so big and
obstruct her airways, leaving her unable to breathe.
Miss Lynch says, "Ellie barely speaks, and when she does, all
she can manage is a whisper.
At nursery she was forever trying to answer questions yet
her mates would always get in there first as they were able to shout louder. She knows the answer and puts her hand up but because she
can only whisper she tries to shout out the answer but other children shout out
first. Even at three years old, she would want to stay in the babies room
because she was so scared of the older children shouting and screaming."
Miss Lynch adds, "Ellie never even plays team sports as she
can't scream loud enough to get the other players attention.
When she is at birthday parties or sports days at school she
often has to sit on her own because she gets frustrated when other children
don't hear her. On some occasions when she is at the park playing on the jungle
gym, she will come crying to me that the other children she doesn't know tease
her because of her voice and she gets really upset."
The mother is now expecting teachers at Ellie's school will
be primed to take extra care listening to daughter. Prone to diseases such as tonsillitis and ear infections
which she can suffer from each month, Ellie fears her operations as she has
developed a fear of needles.
As each operation date approaches Miss Lynch said Ellie's
health diminishes and her voice gets croaky while her energy levels drop. The
procedures last only one hour with Ellie under an anaesthetic as the surgeon burns
off the growths on her throat. She is then put on a diet of ice cream for
several days as her throat heals.
But even before the procedures Ellie struggles with liquid
foods. It is unknown how the condition is began and cannot
be tested for, however it is thought that the virus can be spread through the
HPV virus found in cold sores, genital warts and some forms of cancer.
With the treatment, Ellie has a good chance of having
perfectly functioning vocal cords. However, when she is older, she faces many
more years of treatment.
Miss Lynch says, Ellie is still like any normal little girl. "She loves singing - even if you can hardly hear it, and playing with her friends, as she gets older her confidence is growing and it is
just wonderful to see. We're just hoping school will help her find her voice."