Side Effects of Treatment: Hearing Impairment
One well-known treatment for hepatoblastoma involves the chemotherapy agent cisplatin. While the use of cisplatin is necessary to kill off the tumor cells, unfortunately, the treatment comes with known side effects. A potential and common side effect is a permanent high-frequency hearing loss.
Jillian Kornak, author of Hearing Loss: An Under-Recognized Side Effect of Cancer Treatment, notes that, unlike other organs, cisplatin enters the inner ear and remains. The more cisplatin a person receives, the higher the chance and severity of hearing loss.
Coping with treatment is a day-to-day challenge. Managing survivorship concerns can feel overwhelming. How do you now deal with helping your child with a potential hearing loss?
As a mom of a young adult survivor, I wanted to share a few things I found helpful as we began to address my son’s moderate to severe high-frequency hearing loss:
A roadmap or schedule for hearing testing, known as audiological evaluations, was helpful so that we knew how to monitor the changes in his hearing.
Contact your local county or school district to inquire about eligibility for early intervention and/or preschool speech and language services.
Expose your child to a variety of "sound" experiences!
Check out organizations such as AG Bell for resources on hearing loss.
If hearing aids are recommended:
Create a “wear-time” schedule so you can help your child build tolerance (if they need to habituate to wearing hearing aids).
Connect with a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist to help develop listening and language skills.
Justin Osmond, author of the book, "Hearing With My Heart" was the keynote speaker at the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2022 Convention where I was in attendance. Along with two of his uncles, he was born with a profound hearing loss. As you embark on the journey of addressing your child's hearing loss, I hope you can embrace the inspirational message I found in Justin's personal mantra: I may have hearing loss, but hearing loss does not have me.
Stacey Palant, M.A., CCC-SLP
Mom to Ryan, stage IV survivor