It really doesn’t matter what health condition you have. If you have the right attitude, it will take you a long way on whatever rocky road you find yourself. Never, ever give up. And be sure to talk to your family and friends about becoming organ donors. Doing so saves lives!
What was it like when you were first diagnosed?
My health problems started in my late 30s about 20 years ago. I thought perhaps Vancouver’s rainy weather was to blame for my aches and pains, until one day it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I finally sought medical help.
What did you discover while getting medical help?
Amongst several health issues doctors identified was a possible lung problem. As it turned out I had Pulmonary Hypertension, a condition of increased blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs. Luckily, medication was available to help
Unfortunately, by my mid-fifties, my breathing declined further. Doctors ran more tests and I was told I had PF (Pulmonary Fibrosis), a progressive disease where the lungs gradually scar over and it becomes difficult for a patient’s lungs to function whatsoever.
Did you require additional support?
Yes, my doctor referred me to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge. There, certified staff monitored me as I participated in exercises to maintain my lungs in as good as shape as possible.
I recall walking the circuit one day and feeling my body shut down and how grateful I was that there were program staff who sat me down immediately and gave me oxygen. From that day forward, I was on oxygen full-time, and the talk of a transplant began.
Did you face any challenges qualifying for a lung transplant?
I had long struggled with weight. While I had lost 100 pounds at this point, I needed too lose more. Determined, I didn’t hesitate when my doctor suggested a liquid diet. Nothing was going to stop me. I qualified for the transplant, and lost more weight during the process. And fortunately I’ve been able to keep it off.
Did you experience any set backs after your lung transplant?
Ten days after my transplant, new lungs developed pneumonia, and I had to be put in a coma while doctors got things sorted. Finally, my health stabilized and I was sent to the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre to regain motor skills and cognitive functions. I was able to go home about three weeks later, feeling much better.
How are things going post-lung transplant for you?
Now in my late fifties, I continue to deal with every new challenge as it comes. Since my lung transplant, I have fought and survived breast cancer, and more recently I’ve learned I will be facing another fight. I have a tiny spot showing up on my latest ultrasound.
If it turns out to be cancer, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I’m just so grateful for all the support I’ve received so far – and to be home again with my husband, daughter, son, and grandchildren who rally around me. My oldest grandson even shaved his head to show support for me and raise money for cancer research, and my two dogs won’t let me out of their site. Life is precious!
***Lynn unfortunately lost her fight with cancer in 2019. Rest in peace Lynn.