Two days ago, Jessica Kaminski heard the voice of her mother, Yvonne Kaminski, for the first time in 16 years.

“I don’t know what it must be like to not be able to talk for 16 years and then all of a sudden you can,” says Jessica. “I’m just in shock right now, but so happy for my mom who is so full of life and energy and now she has a voice that matches that.”

Yvonne lost her voice abruptly about a decade and a half ago. She thought at first she had laryngitis, but after going to her doctor and an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Froedtert Hospital, she learned she had Spasmodic Dysphonia, a neurological condition that causes the vocal cords to spasm.

“The doctor could not tell me if my voice would ever come back or not,” says Yvonne. “I was told it’s a very rare disease with no cure and they don’t know what causes it.”

Yvonne tried to heal her condition anyway and experimented with speech therapy, acupuncture, massage and, four years ago, Botox, which had been known to work in some people with Spasmodic Dysphonia. However, after the Botox treatment, her voice remained scratchy, quiet and very difficult to impossible for people to understand.

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