When Ken Fisher talks about being diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) he tells the story of the Queen of the North, a ferry that ran aground and sank in 2006 after failing to make a planned course change. For Ken, a COPD diagnosis can be a wake up call: if you take it as an opportunity to course correct, you can make lifestyle changes that keep you living longer, healthier and happier.
When Ken retired in 2002, he found himself having trouble breathing. His doctor sent him to a COPD support group – which turned out to be the Langley BC Better Breathers group, run by the BC Lung Association. For the past 9 years, Ken’s been the volunteer leader of the group, which consists of a monthly support group with an invited guest speaker, and two exercise groups, each running 3 times per week.
The goal of Better Breathers Groups are to help patients coping with chronic lung conditions (such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and lung cancer) as well as their caregivers, family and friends, learn about managing their conditions. The groups are also an opportunity for their members to get to know each other and socialize. As Ken points out, “this helps people to keep from feeling isolated and depressed.”
The other thing that Ken advises for people with COPD: exercise! Ken stresses regular exercise, saying, “When I was diagnosed, my COPD was almost at a severe level. Now I exercise 3 times a week with the Better Breathers exercise group, and my COPD is mild.”
The exercise groups have proven to be a huge support for members to keep motivated to get healthy. (The group got so big, that they eventually needed to split it into two!) These exercise groups meet three times a week, offering exercise tips, adapted exercise techniques, and support - and they even recently succeeded in their application of a grant for $2,000 from the Langley City Council to have an oxygen concentrator put in their gym! Ken hopes it will allow Better Breather members the opportunity to exercise longer, as well as encourage other gym-goers to learn about the support group and what it offers.
Of the group, Ken says, “Right now, we have members from age 56 to age 92. Everyone is welcome - whether you need help with something specific or are just looking for someone to talk to”
The Langley Better Breathers Group meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 12:30 pm in the Timms building in Langley. Contact Kelly at email@example.com or 604-731-5864 for more information or to join.