Martin Mannette, and his partner Candace, live in Vancouver. Martin grew up in Toronto, where for 19 years, he worked in advertising. He now works as an artist.
What actual lung conditions do you have?
I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008, and had the carcinoid tumour removed in 2009. He lives with COPD and currently has 52% lung function. As well, he manages with other chronic diseases, Type 2 Diabetes and Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
How long did it take to get diagnosed with these conditions?
I went for a pulmonary function test in 2008 and had difficulty recovering from that; I was then diagnosed with lung cancer. At first, I kept procrastinating about having the ensuing surgery because I wanted those resources to go to someone else (a child or someone who needed it more). A nurse and the surgical team finally persuaded me to have the surgery in 2009.
In 2010 Martin was diagnosed with COPD - I thought I was having a heart attack because of the shortness of breath, dizziness and feeling cold, but it turned out to be COPD. In 2017 Iwas diagnosed with early onset PMR., and Type 2 Diabetes was just discovered in Summer of 2017.
How does living with these conditions affect your life?
After the lung cancer surgery in ’09, I awakened to my new reality: I had to slow down my fast-paced lifestyle. It's been an emotional journey, though, and can be difficult to stay calm. My partner Candace, a retired nurse, is always helping to calm me down. She is a huge help, and my "rock.” I also love spending time with my dog Panda, who always can sense when something is wrong, relaxes me, and leads me over to the bed or the couch. Dogs have this ability – care dogs do this but Panda does it naturally. I take care of Panda and he takes care of me!
Were you ever a smoker/drinker/drug user?
Yes, to all of the above. I quit smoking in ’08 due to lung cancer and surgery protocol, but it wasn't the first time I had overcome addiction. I quit drinking back in 1988, and after years of drug abuse and “hitting rock bottom” in 1990, I stopped using drugs then as well.
What exercise do you do?
I've been renovating myapartment for the past six months, which has been a labour of love, and it is quite physically demanding. I also walk Panda twice a day, making sure to scale every hill we see. I also get in extra exercise whernever I can - for instance, I always take the stairs in my apartment building. All these things are done without the help of oxygen.
What advice do you have for others living with COPD?
Take all medications properly, and find yourself a respiratory therapist and/or doctor to get regular health care. Also, join Better Breathers or some sort of COPD support group, to talk with other folks who may have dealt with some of the same challenges as you. Be informed: research your affliction and stay abreast of trends. Exercise as much as you can within your limitations.
How do you feel the health care system could further help those with COPD?
When I was first diagnosed there was very little knowledge about COPD. Great strides have been taken since then to teach health care professionals and it’s really paid off. There needs to be more awareness around COPD – for instance, people think it is a smokers’ only disease but it can be caused by a myriad of things: Drywall, plaster, fumes, chemicals and other job-related airborne toxins.
What does the future hold for Martin Mannette?
I want to continue to live my life to the fullest by being 100% compliant with the directions my doctors have given me. My future is my health, Candace, my art and of course, Panda. My art consists of photography, sketching and animation. My COPD has taken me from traditional art (chemicals) to digital art.
Martin has received three grants for his art projects: Two from The Vancouver Foundation Downtown Eastside Small Arts in 2013 and 2014 and one from the BC Arts Council in 2015. Martin is also involved in a TV program on addiction that involves long-term addicts giving their opinion on what is needed to deal with addiction. He is hoping for further media exposure into this important issue.