City Whispers


Necessity is the mother of invention - how true that has often proved to be! For Hans Haaga, it was a given that he would continue his beloved city sightseeing tours of Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg even after his laryngectomy. But how could he do that without adequate voice volume?

Hans Haaga and his wife discovered their love of city sightseeing tours a long time ago. However, at first they simply enjoyed participating as part of the audience. One day Hans was looking for a special gift for his best friend and decided to give him a guided tour of the town where both were born. Since there was no public sightseeing tour, he simply designed one himself and discovered how much he enjoyed researching in archives and immersing himself in history. So Hans decided to expand his own concept and offer it to tourists. A new hobby was born.


But then he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. Initially, this wreaked havoc with his life. What would life be like now? Which treatment should he opt for? After in-depth medical advice, Hans decided to undergo laryngectomy. His recovery after the operation went without a hitch and within a few days he was able to go for longer walks again and, as soon as he arrived home, he was cycling (albeit electrically) and working in his own vineyard. Whispering was also quickly learnt - it's just that talking out loud still does not really work. Nevertheless, he did not think of giving up the tours which had become so dear to him. 2021, the year of the corona epidemic, provided him with the necessary window of opportunity, as city tours were prohibited. That's when Hans began to have a fresh idea: How about turning passive listeners into active participants?


Hans Haaga, 71 years

Hans Haaga underwent laryngectomy in 2021 and has been in the care of Andreas Fahl Medizintechnik-Vertrieb GmbH ever since. The highly active man simply likes to be on the move, preferably outdoors in nature. In Ochsenbach, in the beautiful Kirbach Valley, he operates a small vineyard for his own use. In good years, he produces up to 200 litres of wine which he vinifies himself. He also makes his own apple cider from meadow orchards. At present, he is supported by our field representative Daniel Knaus. He is completely satisfied with FAHL.


From passive to (inter)active

So let's get to work! What Hans had told by heart to date was written down. It took quite a while, but it was worth it. Today, either his wife Sonja supports him and reads the text at the appropriate passages, or the tour participants do it themselves. This makes the city tours even more lively and actually interactive. This goes down really well. Hans Haaga can still answer questions, but the participants just have to prick up their ears. Sometimes, when he is not immediately understood, Sonja "translates", which sometimes results in hearty laughter.



"I would like to appeal and encourage everyone:
don't let yourselves be bogged down,
but make the best of it!"


Hans now has 20 different topics in his programme, some of which overlap. No two city tours run the same way. Essentially, each city tour is only done once and then modified, because the self-taught guide always finds new details and information. Guided tours on specific topics are also often requested. One particularly exciting assignment was for a hen night on the theme of Stuttgart beer, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Started last year, he also offers a guided bicycle tour: On the tour, there are stops in between and Hans explains the historical highlights. Altogether the bicycle tour will cover a total of 54 km. What a performance!


Basically, nothing seems to have changed

The only real change from the city tours he gave before his surgery is that the group size is limited to 15 people. Apart from that, everything is as it has always been, Hans reports. Also, the "how" of city tours is not at the centre of attention. The participants are all informed in advance about the special aspect, and so far there have been no problems. Apart from the city tours, Hans Haaga is a passionate trial motorbike rider, and has been for the last 40 years. Originally, it was supposed to end when he turned 70, but he just enjoys it too much. He can also be seen regularly in the forest logging. He does not have central heating.

We wanted to know how he relaxes after a hard day. The simple answer was that he drinks a beer and listens to some music. His favourite are the Beatles and Pink Floyd, on vinyl, of course. He does not regard his living situation as something special. "It is what it is" he says. He said he was aware that other patients with similar illnesses were not as well off as he was. Nevertheless, he thinks giving up is the wrong road to travel. "I would like to appeal and encourage everyone: don't let yourselves be bogged down, but make the best of it!"