Support group needed to help patients with lung disease in Wood Buffalo region

Cindy Petipas, a 57-year-old on a list for a double-lung transplant, doesn’t want other patients like her to feel like they are all alone.

Cindy Petipas

Cindy Petipas

Petipas, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2006, believes patients like her are in need of a patient support group to share information and learn from other patients’ experiences.

“I need something like this and I know Fort McMurray needs something like this,” said Petipas. “A patient support group is a wonderful thing that should be here.”

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”) is looking for others like Petipas to kick-start a patient support group in the Wood Buffalo region, along with encouraging residents to take a simple breathing test during the Fort McMurray Fall Show & Market this weekend. It’s all part of TLA’s Powered By Breathing campaign generously supported by Nicorette and Nicoderm.

Petipas says a support group would help her share their experiences with other patients “so others don’t feel like they are all alone.”

“People who don’t know about this illness — or don’t have this illness — don’t understand what you are going through,” said Petipas.

This year TLA is celebrating its 75th anniversary with its Powered By Breathing campaign. The campaign hopes to screen 75,000 Albertans for early diagnosis of lung illnesses –– like COPD. Early detection is important as doctors can use better treatments to reduce symptoms as well as preventing the illness from getting any worse. More Canadian women have died from COPD than breast cancer since 2009, according to figures from Statistics Canada. COPD is also the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Volunteers with TLA during the Fall Show and Market will also ask residents “what they would do if they could breathe better” to spread awareness about lung disease as part of the campaign.

Since 1939, TLA has been the primary information source for lung health. The organization continues to raise funds for critical research and patient support programs and advocates for changes in public policy.

What would you do if you could breathe better? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or tweet us at @lungabnwt, using the hashtag #PoweredByBreathing.

For more information about TLA, check out its website.