From: Walsall, England
Sophie experienced hearing loss and tinnitus for the first time at the age of seven after contracting a mild ear infection. Although it was only temporary at the time, it marked the first of many challenges she'd face. In her teens, she continued to experience hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance issues.
"By the time I was 15, I had noticeable hearing loss," says Sophie. "I was worried for my health, and I was tested for brain tumors, Meniere's disease, and other vestibular conditions. As I was in the mid-quartile of hearing, my doctors were reluctant to give me hearing aids, due to cuts in the UK with the NHS (National Health Service). I pressed on at the Tinnitus Clinic, and someone finally realized how bad my condition was."
When Sophie finally received the treatment she needed, her world changed.
"I can remember when I first turned my hearing aids on, it was like going from seeing in black and white to full color," she says. "It was incredible to finally be able to hear."
As a ballet dancer and musician, both hearing and balance are very important to Sophie. There was a period of time when she had to stop dancing because her balance issues caused her to have a lot of falls. She also found it difficult to practice her instruments. However, she was able to get these things back after seeking out a solution.
"It is so important to seek treatment for hearing loss," says Sophie. "I can honestly say that having hearing aids has changed my life. For so long I was just in this black hole thinking, 'There’s nothing they can do for me,' But the help was there all along. All I needed to do was ask!"
Sophie is a HearStrong Champions because she does not let anything stop her and she has a drive and motivation to help others like her.
"I am resilient," says Sophie. "I have had so many barriers in life to stop me from achieving my goals, yet I have achieved things that I never thought I would. My ambition is to be a role model and an advocate for teenagers and adolescents with hearing loss, and spread awareness of how common Meniere's disease and vestibular migraines are."
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