“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,” said Lynn. “And be sure to talk to your family and friends about becoming organ donors. Doing so saves. It did mine!”
Lynn’s health problems started in her late 30s about 20 years ago. She thought perhaps Vancouver’s rainy weather was to blame for her aches and pains, until one day it felt like an elephant was sitting on her chest and she finally sought medical help.
Amongst several health issues doctors identified, was a possible lung problem. As it turned out Lynn had Pulmonary Hypertension, a condition of increased blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs. Luckily, medication was available to help. Unfortunately, by her mid fifties, her breathing declined further. Doctors ran more tests and Lynn was told she had Pulmonary Fibrosis, a progressive disease where the lungs gradually scar over and it becomes difficult for a patient’s lungs to function whatsoever.
To provide additional support, Lynn’s doctor referred her to the pulmonary rehab program at Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge. There, certified staff monitored her as she participated in exercises to maintain her lungs in as good as shape as possible.
She recalls walking the circuit one day and feeling her body shut down and how grateful she was there were program staff who sat her down immediately and gave her oxygen. From that day forward, Lynn was on oxygen full-time, and talk of a transplant began.
The challenge was ensuring Lynn would qualify. She had long struggled with her weight. While Lynn had lost 100 pounds at this point, she needed too lose more. Determined, she didn’t hesitate when her doctor suggested a liquid diet. Nothing was going to stop her. She qualified for the transplant, and lost more weight during the process. And fortunately has been able to keep it off.
However, her challenges weren’t over. While her transplant went well, 10 days later her new lungs developed pneumonia and she had to be put in a coma while doctors got things sorted.
Finally, Lynn’s health stabilized and she was sent to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre to regain her motor skills and cognitive functions. Three weeks after that, she finally arrived home.
Now in her late fifties, Lynn continues to deal bravely with every new challenge as they come. Since her lung transplant she has fought and survived breast cancer, and more recently Lynn told us she may 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!”
Photo: Lynn with BC Lung Association Patient Advocate (pulmonary fibrosis survivor and fellow double lung transplant recipient) Darcy Murdoch at Ridge Meadows Hospital Pumonary Rehab Facility in Maple Ridge.