'Just grateful': Cecelia Tsosie celebrates getting new hearing aids after battling cancer, COVID-19

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Cecelia Tsosie, 72, of Farmington gets fitted with new hearing aids on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at Sandia Hearing Aids in Farmington. Tsosie battled both cancer and COVID-19 in late 2020, but recovered from both.

FARMINGTON — Trying on her new hearing aids, Cecelia Tsosie took time to reflect on the triumphant nature of an otherwise standard appointment — because she endured extreme hardships in the months leading up to this moment.

Tsosie, who's hard of hearing, said she tested positive for both colon cancer and COVID-19 within a four-month span between June 2020 and September 2020.

However, Tsosie has since recovered from COVID-19 and was told she is cancer-free.

“I cannot take anything for granted,” Tsosie, 72, said.

Tsosie received her new hearing aids Thursday at Sandia Hearing Aids through a program called “Gift of Hearing,” in which a company called ReSound donated $1 million worth of hearing aids to those impacted by COVID-19.

Kristy Tucker, a board certified hearing instrument specialist with Sandia Hearing Aids, said she nominated Tsosie to be one of the recipients, and Tsosie was notified in late February that she was among those selected to receive new hearing aids.

Tucker said there's "nothing more satisfying" than to experience the emotion of Tsosie getting fitted with her new hearing aids.

"Cecelia's the most deserving person... The excitement of being able to share that with her was the best experience," Tucker said. "Just to be able to provide her with joy and happiness, that was just the best feeling."

Tsosie, who had to wait until the pandemic outlook improved to get her new hearing aids, said she relied on her faith in God to overcome past personal challenges and two health conditions that could’ve very well taken her life.

'I began to feel lightheaded one day'

Tsosie, a Farmington resident and a patient at Sandia Hearing Aids since 2003, suddenly began feeling ill in June 2020.

“I began to feel lightheaded one day, and I realized it continued. Even though I went out there, this began to affect me,” Tsosie said.

Tsosie said she went to a health clinic and got blood work done, which revealed low iron levels and also led to something much darker.

After getting both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, her doctor found a “small ball” of cancer in a portion of her colon.

Tsosie said her Sept. 28 surgery date had to be postponed after she tested positive for COVID-19. She went to the emergency room at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock just three days later, exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

Cecelia Tsosie recharges her right hearing aid on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at Sandia Hearing Aids in Farminton.

Continuing to fight

Laying in the intensive care unit, and after giving doctors and family permission to “not resuscitate” her if she were to pass away, she was given another chance to fight. 

After five days of being treated with the drug remdesivir, her condition started improving and she was eventually discharged.

“After two weeks, my taste gradually came back,” said Tsosie, who finally underwent her cancer surgery on Dec. 29.

Tsosie said her doctor had to remove 8 inches of colon during that procedure and she underwent chemotherapy.

After overcoming both afflictions and receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Tsosie said she adopted better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle.

“I’m just grateful to God for putting the right people in my life,” Tsosie said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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