Meet Joan Blackwell

Joan never smoked a day in her life, never lived in an industrialized town full of coal and diesel fumes, never had allergies. So when she was diagnosed with asthma “oh, about 12 to 14 years ago,” she says she was surprised, if not a little shocked.

At first, she resisted the diagnosis, but when she couldn’t complete lengths in the swimming pool, which as a life-long swimmer, she had never had trouble doing, “I had to accept that I had asthma.”

To learn more Joan started to attend Nanaimo Better Breathers, a support group for people with lung conditions, “I didn’t know anything about asthma – I had never suffered one little bit from it.”

She also thought she had better get all the information about the condition she could, so she and her late husband started to attend the Nanaimo Better Breathers group meetings. 

Joan’s husband passed away four years ago, but she  says she still attends the group and helps current leader, Bernie Lafrance, in any way she can. At one time, Joan was asked to put her years as a legal secretary to work for the group and was happy to contribute by taking meting notes and sharing them with other members.

“I have learned so much about asthma thanks to (Better Breathers) meetings.”

Well-armed with information she has received at Better Breathers meetings over the years, today Joan’s asthma is well controlled, helping her lead a fulfilling, social and active life. She says attitude is everything.

 “A good frame of mind is essential for good health.”

Joan's monthly participation in Better Breathers meetings has become as much about sharing time with “the wonderful friends” as it is her way to “give support to others struggling with lung issues, many more serious than my own.”  

The Nanaimo Better Breathers serves people with COPD, asthma and other lung conditions from Parksville and Lantzville in the north to Cedar in the south. For more info email Group Leader Bernie LaFrance at





Page Last Updated: 16/12/2015