Lily has represented Queensland for gymnastics, swimming, and athletics. She is also passionate about music, song writing, travel and raising awareness for hearing loss.
“I was diagnosed with profound hearing loss when I was 11 months old. My parents suspected that something was wrong because I wasn't speaking or reacting when they’d call my name,” said Lily.
Today newborn babies in Australia have their hearing tested while in hospital, but when Lily was born this process was not yet introduced.
Lily had surgery for her first cochlear implant on her right side when she was one year old, followed by one on her left side at eight.
Lily’s hearing devices have made a huge difference to her life and who she is.
“Without my cochlear implants I wouldn’t be able to experience the true feeling sound brings to me. Being able to hear my loved ones talk to me, listening to my favourite artists or TV shows and so much more. Hearing allows me personally to connect with the world.
“I use the Bluetooth feature on my cochlear implants to stream music almost every second of each day. I find comfort in music, it’s like having a coffee in the morning for me,” said Lily.
To get the best outcome from hearing technology, recipients are encouraged to do specialised speech therapy to learn how to listen through their cochlear implant or hearing device. Lily and her family came to Hear and Say for speech therapy as well as audiology services to program her implants and keep them up-to-date.
“Without Hear and Say my life wouldn't run the way it does now. I wouldn't have had the same opportunities that I’ve had, and I might never have known some of the people who are now in my life.”
While reflecting on the path her life has taken, Lily shares some insight on her schooling experience.
“I got questioned frequently when I was growing up, and this was something that I just had to accept because not everyone in the world is deaf, and not everyone knows what ‘those things on your ears’ are.
“When people asked questions or showed an interest in learning about cochlear implants it made me feel heard, which is something that every person who is deaf wants.”
Along with these questions from her peers, Lily was also grateful for the teachers she had at school.
“Every teacher that wore the FM system would always say ‘I feel like a rockstar’.
“When I just started high school, one of the first bits of homework that everyone except me got, was to research what cochlear implants were and we then talked about it in the next lesson. I’m not sure what the best part about that was, people learning something significant about me and other people who are deaf, or the fact I didn’t have to do the homework!”
Growing up, Lily also spent a lot of time at gymnastics, going to training almost every afternoon.
“Gymnastics was my second home and the people there were my second family.
“People would wonder what it was like being deaf and doing gymnastics, I found it hard to answer this because for me, I didn’t know anything else.
“The hairstyles were one noticeable difference though; I could only wear my hair certain ways so that my cochlear implants stayed on. Every mum with a sporting kid knows the ‘tuck the implant under the hair’ trick or the need to resort to headbands.”
Putting the vast quantities of bobby pins aside, Lily found her hearing loss to be a positive addition to her sporting career.
“I always try to look for the beauty in everything in my life and being a gymnast, I was able to promote hearing loss and disabilities in an extreme sport.”
Taking this positive outlook with her, Lily is now teaching the sport she loves.
“I’ve worked as a gymnastics coach ever since I stopped participating in the sport myself and I absolutely love it. I even coached kids who were deaf which made it even more special.”
Looking ahead, Lily has big dreams for what her future might hold.
“My dream is to work in the entertainment industry. I’d love to become a manager for an artist, have my own record label in Australia and build an international company.
“Another dream of mine is to become an advocate or influencer to spread awareness and educate people about being deaf.”
As Lily shares her story, she has some quick pieces of advice for new parents who have just found out their child is deaf.
“When your child grows up a bit and you’re having an argument, those hearing devices will not be staying on! We will take advantage and choose not to hear you yelling.
“In all seriousness, please be optimistic and patient, do not ever hesitate to seek help from experts, ask as many questions as you need and be prepared to learn a lot.
“The process will be challenging and emotional but one day your child will be so grateful for what you did for them. It will all be worth it.”