Short of Breath
About ten years ago Darlene had trouble breathing. “I had noticed I was short of breath, but I just assumed it was something that came with age,” recalls Darlene. Not understanding that shortness of breath isn’t a normal part of aging, Darlene didn’t go to the doctor until she was so breathless she thought she had pneumonia. Darlene was told she had pulmonary fibrosis – a serious disease that causes the lungs to become scarred. “It took a while for me to understand the diagnosis and for the news to set in,” admits Darlene.
Since her pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, Darlene’s life has changed dramatically. She has sold her business, requires supplemental oxygen and is waiting for a lung transplant. “It’s frustrating constantly fighting for each and every breath. I can’t live like I used to. Now I have to plan where I am going so I don’t run out of oxygen. Carrying an oxygen tank everywhere makes everything more difficult,” explains Darlene.
Still Waiting for her Second Breath
If Darlene gets ‘the life-saving call’ she is waiting for, she will be flown to Edmonton to have the lung transplant surgery. It will be the first time in her life that she will have to call someplace other than the farm home while she recovers for at least three months. Despite the risks of the surgery, and having to temporarily relocate to Edmonton, the decision to be listed for a lung transplant was an easy one for Darlene.
“The thought that there is hope for a lung transplant gets me through the most difficult times. I am a grandma now to five grandchildren. A lung transplant would allow me more time with my family. I won’t give up,” says Darlene.
Today Darlene is a Breathe Ambassador for The Lung Association, Saskatchewan. She is part of a unique volunteer committee that works with the Lung Association team to improve Saskatchewan residents transplant journeys. All of the other volunteer committee members have already had a lung transplant. Darlene is the only one still wishing for a second breath. “It’s important for me to be involved with this group and give the perspective of what it is like to wait for a lung transplant. I am breathless but hopeful.”