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about a month to fully recover. “That’s more than a
year-and-a-half ago, and my check-ups show I’ve had
no recurrence,” he says. A college basketball player
and sports-radio announcer in his younger days,
Hicker boasts that his voice is stronger now than it
was before the treatment.
THE VOICE CENTER IS ABOUT MORE THAN
JUST CLINICAL TREATMENT. There also is
a large research component to the work done
there. The center’s physicians attract numerous
grants from the National Institutes of Health, as
well as gifts from private philanthropy. In one
research project, Dr. Long has spent five years
researching how to use adipose-derived stem cells
to grow tissue for vocal-cord replacement. And
Dr. Mendelsohn, a fellowship-trained specialist in
transoral robotic surgery and laser microsurgery,
notes that the center incorporates national
clinical trials for his throat-cancer patients, the
first such trials in many decades. The center’s
research programs help develop treatments that
are less invasive and more effective for patients,
Dr. Chhetri says. “This center is unmatched in
its combination of clinical care and research
to advance the knowledge of these disorders,
making a huge difference in patients’ quality
of life,” he states.
“Our work is more than just medical care to
help people make sound; it also is about the way we
form sounds to make words,” Dr. Berke says. But
“words mean more than what is set down on paper,”
he continues, quoting from the poet and author
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
“It takes the human voice to infuse them with the
shades of deeper meaning.” Thus, the voice is at
the very core of our gift to communicate. It is in
essence what makes us human, and Dr. Berke’s
mission and that of the center he founded is to
preserve that humanity by returning a lost gift
to its rightful owners.
Dr. Abie Mendelsohn examines
patient George Hicker, who underwent
robotic surgery to remove a
cancerous growth from his throat.
It’s been more than 18 months since
the surgery, “and my check-ups show
I’ve had no recurrence,” Hicker says.
Bay Area freelance journalist Joan Voight’s articles, blog
posts and columns have been published in Wired, Adweek
and on CNBC and CBS Interactive websites.
To learn more about the UCLA Voice Center
for Medicine and the Arts, visit:
headandnecksurgery.ucla.edu/voicecenter U MAGAZINE