Champion - Nancy Chovancek

Entrepreneur • Author

Nominated by: The HearStrong Foundation

From: Wheaton, IL

First Signs of Hearing Loss

When Nancy was 21 years old, she felt an odd fullness in her ears. "It was the equivalent of talking in a large soup can," she said. "With scarcely audible sounds, I had difficulty hearing what people were saying to around me. I was diagnosed with Meniere's disease. I never even considered that this particular incident at the young age of 21 would ultimately define who I am as a person today."

Living with Meniere's disease

Nancy said the disease was well managed until she was in her mid-30s. "The force of it was unbearable. The vertigo was the worst. It was shortly after that bout that I began to have tinnitus in my left ear. A year later, it started in my right ear. That's when it became clear to me that I had encountered some hearing loss and soon started wearing small hearing aids." Nancy's hearing eventually worsened to the point of needing cochlear devices.

"When my cochlear devices were activated and I walked out of the doctor's office, I heard a strange sound. I asked my husband what it was and he said, 'those are birds chirping, hon.' I cried. It made me realize all that I had missed out on in my life; although I was there to see them happening I was not able to embrace the entire experience because I had such a hard time hearing." From then on, Nancy was committed to experiencing the rest of her life as fully as possible.

"If I truly want to do something, my hearing loss or cochlear devices won't stop me. I skydived at 14,000 feet without them."

Why Nancy is a HearStrong Champion

In the spirit of inspiring others with hearing loss to live their lives fully, Nancy wrote a book called, appropriately, "I Can Finally Hear Birds." Nancy says it is a candid, comical and very intimate journey about hearing loss, Meniere's disease and cochlear implants. "I want people (with hearing loss) to realize that although there may be some limitations to what you used to be able to do, it shouldn't stop you from being who you were before you lost your hearing. A person with hearing loss is still the same person."

The Latest with Nancy

Angry Birds Book CoverOn October 15, 2014, Nancy published a blog post on entitled, My Journey with Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implants.

Nancy also recently published another book, "Angry Birds and Beehive Hair."

Nancy Chovancek HearStrong Award

Nancy is presented her HearStrong Champion award by ambassadors Brian McCaskey (Chicago Bears) and Mark Scoggins (National Basketball Retired Players Association)

Click here to see video highlights from the event.

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