Support group needed to help patients with lung disease in Camrose, Alberta

CAMROSE, ALTA. — Joan Branscombe doesn’t want patients who are coping with debilitating lung diseases to feel like they are all alone.

Joan and Alfred Branscombe

Joan and Alfred Branscombe

“Coping with a lung illness is not an easy road for a loved one and for their caregivers –– you sometimes feel like you are walking on a tightrope,” said Branscombe who is taking care of her 83-year-old husband, Alfred –– a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient in Kingman, a small hamlet 26 km north of Camrose.

The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (“TLA”) is looking for others, like the Branscombes, to kick-start a support group in Camrose, along with encouraging residents to take a simple breathing test during Community Registration Night Thursday (tomorrow) at the Camrose Field House (4516 54 St.) as part of its Powered By Breathing campaign generously supported by Nicorette and Nicoderm.

Branscombe says a support group would help her share their experiences with other patients “so others don’t feel like they are all alone.” It would also help caregivers on how to better support patients as they learn from others in the support group, she said.

“My husband and I know what it is like to be all alone when it comes to dealing with lung disease” said Branscombe. “Just to be with other people is really important for those patients.”

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 at Community Registration Night in Camrose 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 tweeting us using the hashtag #PoweredByBreathing, sending a Facebook message, emailing or by filling your answer below!


Alberta woman looking forward to gardening again after double-lung transplant surgery

Joanne Cormier, a double-lung transplant recipient from Willingdon, Alta., says her life has already changed for the better.

It has only been a couple of weeks since her complicated, life-saving surgery, but Cormier says she is relieved that she no longer has a large bottle of oxygen attached to her 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“I feel great — I feel 100 per cent better than I did before,”said Cormier who battled with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for four years leading up to her surgery in April 28, 2014.

COPD is an illness that slowly damages a patient’s airways — breathing tubes that carry air in and out of their lungs. The illness makes causes those airways to swell along with causing mucus to block those airways. COPD also damages tiny air sacs at the tips of those airways, which makes breathing extremely difficult.

The mother of two says her illness was caused after working as a waitress and bartender in a second-hand smoke-filled bar for more than 30 years.

Now, after her life-saving surgery, Cormier says she is grateful. She can now breathe easier.

“There are no words to describe my thankfulness (to the lung donor’s family),”said Cormier.

“What do you say to someone for that great of a gift? A thank you is just not enough.”

Cormier, who is still recovering in hospital after the surgery, says she is looking forward to playing darts again — something that she couldn’t do before the surgery — along with doing some gardening.

“I haven’t been able to do that in the past few years, so that kind of bothered me,”she said.

“I am hoping to have some kind of summer left when I get out of (the hospital).”

Since lung transplant patients have to spend long months before, during, and after their surgeries in Edmonton — including those who come from outside of Alberta’s capital city, like Cormier — the Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (TLA) offers some financial support to those patients and their caregivers.

That financial support is paid for by TLA’s generous supporters.

“I was given a $1,000 grant, and (TLA) gave me $600 to help pay for my rent in outpatient residence, and I was given $200 in food and $200 in gas so I can get back and forth,”said Cormier.

“This took a weight off my shoulders.”

To learn more about TLA’s Second Breath program, click here.

An Alberta double-lung transplant recipient has his ‘freedom back’


David Wheadon can now breathe easier after a successful double-lung transplant surgery.

The 55-year-old millwright worker was diagnosed with emphysema in 2002 — a chronic long-term disease that damages tiny air sacs inside the lungs making it hard to breathe.

Over time the illness will get worse, as was the case for Wheadon who spent the last few years attached to oxygen bottles.

Wheadon says his condition worsened in 2008 when he “collapsed at work.”

“I was on 10 litres of oxygen (a day) just to move, just to walk, just to do anything in daily living” said Wheadon.

After his surgery in February 2014, Wheadon says it took him a long time to get comfortable knowing that he will no longer have an oxygen bottle attached to him 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Now, I don’t even miss it — there is no more oxygen bottles in my house,” said Wheadon.

“I have my freedom back. I can do anything — I can go up and down stairs with no problems.”

Before, during, and after his surgery, Wheadon was given some financial supports from The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT’s Second Breath program during his long stay in Edmonton where his transplant took place.

Some lung-transplant patients — many from all over Western Canada who come to Edmonton for the complicated surgeries — must stay in Alberta’s capital city for at least five months.

Along with offering guidance to those patients, The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT (TLA) offers some financial help for those patients with food, accommodation and fuel costs with funds raised from TLA’s generous supporters.

“They give you support just by talking to you,” said Wheadon about TLA. “They know you’re there if you need to call.”

To learn more about TLA’s Second Breath program, click here




Lung health supporters share what they would do if they could breathe better

PoweredByBreathing poster

The conversation has begun.

We have asked you, our readers of this blog and supporters of lung health, what you would do if you could breathe better.

Through our social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook, we have already received a few responses:

Here are a few messages from Facebook:

Responses to Powered By Breathing

Tell us what you would do by filling out the comment sheet below or by emailing

You should also talk to your doctor about a simple breathing test. To find out more, call our help line at 1-866-717-2673.

Another amazing find in our historical archives: The Creed of the Tuberculosis Worker

Check out what we — at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT — found in some historical archives at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

This was written in the early 1950s and was sent out as a memo to all graduating tuberculosis workers and doctors. This is an amazing discovery in our archives and it speaks about how passionate those health professionals were in fighting tuberculosis.

Creed Of The Tuberculosis Worker

By Robert J. Anderson, M.D.

“I believe that what I have done – and others before me – has reduced the suffering and the deaths of my brothers from tuberculosis. I am grateful that biological forces of nature and improving environmental factors created by man have favoured my work.

“I believe that success of our past effort has been furthered by the enlightened interest of
my neighbour, my country-folk, which has led to cooperation and support which exceeds self-interest.

“I believe that my services have not yet reached every outstretched seeking hand. There is yet more for me to do.

TBPatients“I pledge myself to my brother man to search out the many unknown causes of tuberculosis.

“I pledge that I shall treat each person equally in his misfortune, excusing myself not at all for my ignorance of his condition – of which he knows not himself.

“I shall help him and his to hold family and station.

“I shall help to restore him to pleasures of health, family, and work.

“This I shall do within my ability until tuberculosis is no longer found. I shall seek knowledge of things I do now or can do tomorrow.

“I shall hold to these tenets and oaths as long as they save suffering for the sick and protect others.

“These things I shall do, and shall help others who hold likewise.

Do you have a story to share? Were you involved with The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT in the 1960s? Let us know by filling out the form below!