Zion is the middle child of Lovetta Spencer. Both his sister Nia, a college freshman, and his 13-year-old brother Joshua were born with severe hearing loss and both wear hearing aids. Zion’s hearing was fine though, and at 17 he was a budding high school basketball star when he suffered a sprained ankle that wouldn’t get better month after month. After 9 months of tests and biopsies, the family got the news they dreaded. Zion had bone cancer and would have to lose his lower leg. By a prophetic coincidence, the Spencer children were patients at Hearing Health Center and were with Lovetta at an appointment with their audiologist, Dr. Jaclyn Riel, when they heard Zion’s diagnosis.
Following the surgery, Zion suffered through massive doses of radiation and chemotherapy which permanently destroyed his hearing, as well. He went home from Rush Hospital in a wheelchair, depressed, debilitated with pain, and unable to communicate with his friends and family.
Hearing aids, the only option for Zion’s hearing, were out of the question. The Spencers were wiped out financially. Mounting medical bills and the crushing cost of treatment rendered them monetarily devastated.
That’s when a social worker at Rush Hospital told Lovetta about the hospital’s recent partnership with the Fisher Foundation for Hearing Health Care, and how we help children who lose their hearing from cancer treatment. We could help Zion and he, too, would come under the compassionate, expert care of Dr. Riel at Hearing Health Center.
Lovetta started sobbing. “I can’t believe this path is taking us back to her,” she cried. “They’ve been there since the beginning when we found out about Zion’s diagnosis. They were there with the kids and me when we learned about his leg. This journey is coming full circle.”
Zion was worried about getting hearing aids. He was a senior in high school with a missing leg and did not want anything else to make him stand out.
Dr. Gail Elden, a psychologist, Hearing Health Center patient, and supporter of the Fisher Foundation, donated two brand new custom-designed hearing aids to the Foundation. They are powerful, fit perfectly, and best of all, according to Zion, they are invisible.
Just after Thanksgiving we informed Dr. Elden about Zion, the recipient of her hearing aids. She was so choked up she could barely speak. Finally, she said, “Now that, is really something to be thankful for.”
Zion with his mom, Lovetta
Zion’s donor, Gail Elden
Dr. Jaclyn Riel with Zion, Nia, and Josh Spencer
Zion and Lovetta with Dr. Ronna Fisher and Dr. Jaclyn Riel