WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: A need for lung cancer research

lungs

Tributes pour in after loss of legendary father

with_parents2CBC NEWS; Terry Fox’s father, Rolly, dies following battle with lung cancer, posted March 9, 2016 

It has been an incredibly sad week here at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT — especially after Terry MacInnes lost his battle with his severe lung health condition March 3.

The entire country, us included, is also mourning the loss of Rolly Fox, the father of Terry Fox. Rolly died Tuesday, March 8 “while listening to a little Hank Williams,” according to his family through a statement posted on the Terry Fox Foundation’s website.

“We have witnessed once again the pain cancer causes but we know, oh how we know, that we are not alone,” said the family in the statement.

“We have seen first hand the opportunities to extend life because of our nation’s collective belief and investment in cancer research, yet have been forced to accept that they were not available to Dad/Grandpa.”

With further investment in critically underfunded lung cancer‬ research, we hope that some day announcements like these become a thing of the past.

A radioactive study into radioactive elements

BBC World Service, Elements: The Radio Actives, Published March 9, 2016

Radon Kit Photo

A radon test kit, like this one, can be purchased at http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com.

The BBC World Service’s Business Daily has taken a closer look into a trio of radioactive elements, like uranium, and studies how those elements were once used commercially in the 20th century.

The documentary also looks at what residents in Finland are doing to curb radon levels — a radioactive gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

When you give it a listen, it is a reminder as to why we encourage home and building owners to test for radon during the winter months.

Download the MP3 file as a podcast to your MP3 device or smartphone from the BBC World Service.

River of trash causing lung health problems in Beirut

The National Post, ER doctors see spike in respiratory illnesses, published March 8

landfill-1543880-639x428.jpgLebanon is in the midst of a trash collection crisis and it is causing alarming problems for emergency room doctors in that country.

The crisis began eight months ago when government officials in Beirut closed down a landfill without providing an alternative.

The city of Beirut is mostly garbage free, but the trash is being hauled to the city’s outskirts, where piles upon piles of trash are seen along the roadside and the banks of the Beirut River.

According to the Association Press, patients coping with serious lung conditions are filling hospitals in Beirut because of burning garbage.

—JC—

 

Meet Calgary’s Catherine Bedford, Alberta’s 61st double-lung transplant patient in 2015

IMG_0604

Catherine Bedford is a 50-year-old resident from Calgary currently recovering from a double-lung transplant she received in December 2015.

Catherine Bedford, a 50-year-old Calgary resident, has been through quite a journey in 2015.

As surgeons in Edmonton’s University Hospital performed a record-shattering 61 lung transplant operations in 2015, Bedford was the last person to receive the life-saving surgery during that extremely busy year.

“I can do whatever I want now — I’ve got my life back,” said Bedford, a former dental hygenist who had to leave her position because of her illness.

“It is so important to sign that donor card and talk about it with your families.”

Bedford first discovered something was wrong with her health during her early 30s when she was unable to do common chores, like shovelling sidewalks. And as someone who was physically fit, she could no longer jog.

‘Problems breathing’

“I just noticed that exertion just gave me problems breathing,” she said during an interview with The Lung Association March 2.

Bedford had two close calls while giving birth to her two children. When she was 32, she gave birth to a 10-week premature baby boy who, she said, “came out blue” because of a lack of oxygen from her lung health condition that wasn’t diagnosed by doctors.

Then, at 33, Bedford gave birth to a tiny, low-weight baby — the result of a lack of oxygen in her body. That is when doctors realized something was wrong.

“I was diagnosed when (my children) were four and five-years-old,” she said.

Doctors discovered that Bedford had Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic form of emphysema.

From the age of 38, right through to her operation in 2015, Bedford had to be on oxygen, carrying large bottles with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Doctors also added her to a transplant list when she was 48 when her condition became worse.

Breathing_icon1The whole process was a journey for Bedford, as she was once taken off the list because she had resistant bacteria in her lungs. Doctors then gave her antibiotics for four months to fight the bacteria.

Once she was added back to the list on Dec. 9, 2015, Bedford says she received “the phone call” 20 days later.

Nerves rattled after phone call

That was a nerve-racking experience for Bedford who need medication and an ambulance ride because of an anxiety attack — something that is quite common for transplant patients when they get “the call.”

“The whole process was pretty quick,” said Bedford who also supports The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT every year with Christmas Seals and its other direct mail campaigns.

“You have to help out because it is so important to give to research.”

A long journey

Bedford, who is still getting treated in Edmonton to ensure her body doesn’t reject her new lungs, says she now has a new lease on life. She can now run on the treadmill — something she hasn’t done since her early 20s — along with playing sports she loves like slo-pitch, swimming, and water-polo.

As her recovery from surgery continues, Bedford hopes to meet the family of the person who gave her new set of lungs.

“I would like to say thank you — there is no gift better than the gift of life,” said Bedford.

“I am in the middle of writing a thank you card. It’s unfortunate that one has to pass on to save another person’s life, but that’s the organ donation cycle.”

Bedford now has a taste for adventure as she wants to go travelling with her family, along with horseback riding and skiing.

“I just want to do all of these things that I haven’t been able to do in a long time,” she said.

“It has been a long journey.”

—JC—

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: Fighting air pollution in China

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 8.39.57 AM.png

Change air pollution before it changes you: PSA from China

 

Air pollution in China has been dangerous in recent weeks.

All 366 cities in China — including Beijing — failed to meet World Health Organization air quality standards in 2015. The survey also shows that more than 90 per cent of residents in China are concerned about air pollution.

Obviously, air pollution in China is unavoidable, but in order to get people to take action against air pollution, WildAid‘s GOBlue campaign created an interesting PSA that speculates what residents might do to cope with the dirty air.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 8.39.40 AMFrom its press release, “‘Hairy Nose’ is an eye-catching and thought-provoking concept that projects the issue of air pollution into the distant future. In this world, nose hair has evolved to filter pollution and has led to activities, fashion and culture centered on the now prominent facial features. In the face of this, one man refuses to accept the pollution and shaves his nose hair in defiance. The message for current urban residents is clear: Change air pollution before it changes you.”

A very important message in China, especially since lung cancer deaths have risen by 465 per cent over the last 30 years.

What is it like living in Beijing?

CBC News: A Montrealer experiences Beijing’s notorious air pollution: Published March 3, 2016

hazy-day-in-beijing-1536906-640x480CBC News caught up with a former Montreal resident who now lives in Beijing. He shared about what life is like in a city that has once reached 423 in Beijing’s air quality index — a scale that is out of 500.

Elvis Anber says on days when it is really bad, he can’t see anything outside his apartment window. Residents in China also check out the air quality as much as they check out the weather reports, he says.

He also raises a very interesting point.

“To let in that fresh air, that’s something we take for granted in Canada,” Anber said to CBC News.

“Maybe when it’s about 100 or below, you can open up the window to let in some fresh air. You really shouldn’t be out when the pollution is this high, especially over prolonged periods of time.”

Pack a mask after an apocalypse to help you breathe: American Lung Association

American Lung Association: Forget the Post-Apocalyptic Setting Killing You – What About the Dust? Published Feb. 24, 2016

blog_madmax_h

© 2015 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved

Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up the 88th Academy Awards last Sunday night by winning the most Oscars with six.

And before movie director George Miller walked on the red carpet that night, our friends at The American Lung Association asked is why those who create post-apocoliptic stories and movies don’t consider risks to lung health.

“Naturally with any scenario like post end-of-the-world, we assume natural resources such as water and gas will be scarce and probably rationed out by a power hungry warlord,” it wrote in this interesting post in its blog.

“What many people probably don’t consider are the risks to lung health. After all, humans need to breathe to survive.”

This is a must read for all lung health fans! And if the world ends, make sure you pack a mask to help you fight through sandstorms.

—JC—

 

Donors, surgeons saved 61 lung transplant patients in Alberta

Organ donationWhat a breath-taking feat.

University of Alberta hospital surgeons — and those who committed to organ donations — saved the lives of 61 patients who were in need of a lung transplant in 2015.

Surgeons performed 61 lung transplants in 2015, smashing the old record of 44 set in 2014. Of those 61 lung transplants, 47 organs were from Alberta donors.

That is on top of the record that was broken by the same staff in liver transplant surgeries. Surgeons performed 83 of those surgeries in 2015 — eclipsing the previous record of 80 set in 2007.

Of course, none of those surgeries would be possible without the gift from living and deceased donors, says Dr. Norman Kneteman, Zone Clinical Section Chief for Transplant Services with Alberta Health Services (AHS).

IMG_0595

Tim Penstone, a double-lung transplant recipient in Edmonton, talks to reporters Feb. 25, 2016 at the University of Alberta hospital about his surgery and how it changed his life.

“These record were made possible thanks to an exemption team, including donor co-ordinators, intensive care staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians, surgeons and staff,” said Kneteman in a press release.

“They care for both organ donors and organ recipients at this site and work tirelessly to support our transplant program.”

All lung and liver transplants are performed at Edmonton’s University of Alberta hospital, along with the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and the Stollery Children’s Hospital. The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT is also continuing to fund research to help lung transplant patients.

Tim Penstone, a double-lung transplant recipient and an active volunteer with The Lung Association, says his life-saving surgery changed his life.

“I owe my life to my donor,” said Penstone, who took part in a media conference with AHS celebrating the milestone Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

Penstone was on a wait list for a lung transplant for four months until he received the call to get a transplant. Since the surgery, his life has improved immensely. He no longer has to carry oxygen with him 24 hours a day and he is back to running his own soil-management company.

“Without a lung transplant, I may not be here today,” said Penstone.

THE NEED IS STILL GREAT

Despite the milestone, however, The Lung Association and AHS urges Albertans to talk to their families and commit to organ and tissue donation as the need still remains high. Alberta has one of the lowest organ and tissue donor rates in the country, according to AHS.

Some who are waiting for a transplant “continue to die” because a suitable donor was not made available, said Kneteman.

“The need for organs is constant,” said Kneteman.

Once deceased organ donor could provide life-saving treatment for seven people, according to AHS

In order to encourage others to commit to organ donation, the provincial government launched the online organ and tissue registry in 2014.

Albertans can also commit to organ and tissue donation at their local registry agent when they to renew their driver’s licenses or other forms of legal ID.

—JC—

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK: From cat videos to air quality

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 2.33.06 PM

Editor’s note: This is a new feature we hope our supporters — and fans of lung health — will enjoy on a weekly basis. “What We’re Reading This Week” will post on PoweredByBreathing.com on Fridays to give our supporters and fans of The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT an idea of the lung health-related news stories, clips, videos, and editorial posts that we are reading, watching, and listening to every week.

We hope you enjoy it. If you see an article that you came across related to lung health, please share it with us by emailing communicationsab@ab.lung.ca. 

Is it time we re-think how we keep warm?

“The quest for cleaner fire: Why it’s time to rethink our favourite way to get warm.”: Globe and Mail, Published Feb. 17, 2016

Forest PitThe Globe and Mail’s Sarah MacWhirter studies how cities across Canada are tackling air pollution, including Montreal where it will soon have some of the toughest regulations against wood burning.

Residents in Montreal will soon be required “to register their wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, and, as of Oct. 1, 2018, will have to replace what they have now with equipment that meets the tough new EPA standard of only 2.5 grams of particulate released into the atmosphere each hour,” writes MacWhirter.

Air pollution kills 5.5 million a year: VICE

“Air Pollution Kills 5.5 Million People A Year — Over Half Of Them in China, India”: VICE News, Published Feb. 16, 2016

forbidden-pollution-1245100-639x426Staggering stuff.

According to VICE News, air pollution has caused more than 5.5 million premature deaths in 2013, and that number is expected to rise — particularly in India and China.

In two of the world’s fastest growing economies, air pollution has killed 1.6 million people in China and 1.4 million in India, writes VICE News’ Jake Bleiberg.

The World Health Organization has already estimated that 80 per cent of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14 per cent of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or acute lower respiratory infections; and six per cent of deaths were due to lung cancer.

The purrrrr-fect message against smoking?


During the Grammy Awards Monday night, the Truth Initiative aired an amazing ad in the United States to engage young people to “be the generation that ends smoking.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 2.33.26 PM.pngIt was definitely the cat’s meow as the video — which has more than 2 million views on YouTube — cites that those poor kitties will get cancer if their owners smoke.

According to the ad that is full of cat-itude, smoking equals no cats, which means no cat videos. 😦

It’s a great message and our media specialist at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT has already watched it a dozen times. Perhaps it’s like catnip.

-JC-

Test your home for radon before spring in Alberta

Radon graphic for blog post

Radon is a cancer-causing, colourless, odourless, naturally-occurring radioactive gas that comes from uranium breaking down deep in the soil. Radon enters a home through cracks in foundation walls, construction joints, and gaps around service pipes or support posts.

Preliminary data collected from 268 homes in Calgary region by a University of Calgary project shows that one in five homes are over Health Canada’s maximum acceptable limit of 200 Becquerels/m3.

Data also collected by The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT from 658 Alberta homes reveals that 16 per cent of those households have radon levels higher that Health Canada’s acceptable limit. However, when the homes are compared to limits set in the United States — a limit of 149 Bq/m3 — that’s 28 per cent of homes in Alberta that have tested higher than acceptable limits set in the U.S.

The World Health Organization recommends an acceptable limit of radon should be at 100 Becquerels/m3. With that said, 54 per cent of those same homes tested in Alberta are above WHO’s acceptable limit — a result that is much higher than anticipated.

The result is staggering because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking in Canada. About 3,200 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon exposure each year — about 16 per cent of all lung cancer deaths in Canada.

There are no radon free areas in Canada and data shows Alberta is in a very higher risk of having radon in almost every home. However, the question every Alberta household and landlord needs to answer is how much of that radioactive gas is in his or her home. Of course, the only way to know is to test.

Health Canada recommends that homes and buildings be tested for a minimum of three months using long term testing kit and the best time to test is during the fall and winter months. Since it is already mid-February, time is running out for households to take advantage of prime time opportunities to test their homes for radon.

 

Purchase your test kit from The Lung Association office or online from http://radonaware.accustarcanada.com/ at the cost of $35. Kits are also available at different hardware stores.

For more information about radon, visit www.ab.lung.ca/radon or contact Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health by email at shassan@ab.lung.ca or by phoning 1-888-5666-5864, ext. 2252

— This blog post was authored by Sufi Hassan, Program Specialist for Environment and Health at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT

WANTED: A home for lung transplant patients in Edmonton, Alberta

IMG_0562

Linda and Kent MacInnes.

LOGAN LAKE, B.C. — Kent MacInnes, a 60-year-old resident who lives in this small picturesque town in British Columbia believes he made the right — yet difficult — choice to help protect his family’s financial future.

Despite living with congestive heart failure and a fatal lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, MacInnes has chosen to pull himself off the wait list for a heart and double-lung transplant — a surgery he desperately needs in Edmonton’s University of Alberta hospital.

“If something were to happen after my surgery and I didn’t make it, then I would probably bankrupt my family and leave my wife with nothing,” said MacInnes.

Edmonton is the only city in Western Canada that has the expertise, facilities, and resources to handle these kinds of complicated surgeries, including double-lung transplants.

Medical costs are covered for the surgeries, even for patients like MacInnes who are from outside Alberta. However, travel and living expenses must be paid for by patients and their families — costs that can be financially crippling for anyone who lives outside a 100-km radius outside of Edmonton, especially for MacInnes who lives 865 km away from Alberta’s capital city.

Patients who need lung transplants — along with their caregivers — are required to stay in Edmonton for more than six months before, during and after their surgeries so they can be treated immediately if there are complications, like organ rejections.

Costs for those patients and their caregivers can be a huge financial burden, forcing families to make difficult decisions.

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT doesn’t want to have any family decide between life and financial security. Our goal is to raise money to eventually build a home for transplant patients like MacInnes where they and their caregivers can have a place to call home during their entire stay in Edmonton.

The facility will also have staff on site where patients — like MacInnes — can get the care and information they need to help them prepare and recover from their surgeries.

“The cost of transportation is crippling in its own right,” said MacInnes. “I would have bankrupted my family.”

MacInnes says if all he needed was a double-lung transplant, having a home — supported by Lung Association donors — for lung transplant patients in Edmonton would have made a difference for his family.

His entire family is supportive of MacInnes’s decision.

“It is frightening to think how little we would have left after having to uproot and move to Edmonton,” said MacInnes who found out he had IPF after a heart attack in 2006.

“We would have to give up everything that we have here in order to be able to afford to live (in Edmonton).”

Help The Lung Association find a way to help patients like MacInnes by sending us a donation today.