New Zealand-born Helena is particularly close with family. Born profoundly deaf, she was bullied relentlessly by her peers throughout her childhood.
Only her family - particularly her sister Bridget - made life more fun.
“People don’t realise how difficult deafness can be,” Helena said.
“It is a hidden disability, an isolating disability, because it is one of communication. But my sister was supportive of me, no matter what, throughout all the challenges my hearing loss presented.”
Now 42, Helena and her husband live in Perth with their four children. But just after they moved, Helena’s hearing suddenly deteriorated, and she struggled to keep employment.
It was then that Helena was finally assessed as ‘eligible’ for a cochlear implant.
When a New Zealand radio station heard Helena’s story, and of her bond with her sister, they pitched in to ensure Bridget was with Helena when the implant was switched on.
“When Bridget surprised me at the airport, I could not believe it,” Helena said.
“All my life, my sister was my rock. She understands more than anyone what it was like to grow up with a hearing loss. It means the world that she was here for my switch on, and to have her support as I learn to hear this beautiful, noisy world around me.”