Living with lung disease or lung cancer, particularly a rare condition, can be very isolating, even at the best of times. As our country and much of the world face one of our greatest challenges, this sense of isolation is being felt broadly.
Each of us plays a vital role in staying apart to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but this act of distancing can take its toll mentally and emotionally.
The unique challenges of living with a rare condition don’t go away at a time like this. While your friends and family are caring and supportive, it can feel like no one really understands how you feel. Connecting with someone who has the same condition – someone who understands what you are going through – can make all the difference.
When Peter Ingham was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in 2016, it was challenging to find anyone in his area he could talk to.
Unfortunately, Peter’s experience is not unique. That’s why Lung Foundation Australia runs services and programs like Peer Connect, which enables people with Pulmonary Fibrosis and IPF to share experiences and provide support to each other. The free service matches eligible people across the country to others in a similar situation, via phone or email.
“I’ve learned that if you’ve got someone to share your journey with, it encourages you to persevere,” Peter said.
“What I like about the Peer Connect service is that you’re matched well. I think it’s good to get in touch with someone and we have great conversations. I must say it does encourage me to keep on track. It’s like a checkpoint in a way.
“It’s very important to stay connected with others who understand what you’re going through. If I was more isolated in my own life and didn’t have someone like my peer to talk to from time-to-time, I feel I’d be worse off.”
Lung Foundation Australia Respiratory Care Nurse, Amanda Curran says a program such as Peer Connect is just one way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
“Living with a lung condition can be an isolating experience, even without the additional challenges we’re currently facing. The range of emotions you may be feeling can have a real and lasting impact on your overall wellbeing. Connecting and talking with others who have shared experiences can be immensely therapeutic and is important in helping you navigate through those emotions,” Amanda said.
“Peer Connect, and our other support services and programs, provide the opportunity for anyone living with a lung condition to connect with others, no matter the distance. It’s really about breaking down those barriers and providing that extra support which can make all the difference.
“We offer a number of ways to connect virtually, which is particularly helpful for people who live in rural or regional areas and for older Australian’s who may find it challenging to get out and about. It can help to bridge that gap and is a way our community can support and learn from each other during this challenging time. If we don’t offer a support service that’s right for you, we can connect you with other services and programs in your area to ensure you have access to the care you need to live well.”
Whether you’re living with a chronic or rare lung disease or lung cancer, reach out to Lung Foundation Australia and our team can help connect you to information and support services that are right for you.
Connect to care
In these times of uncertainty and with so much change to our everyday lives, it is normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed, especially if you are living with a lung condition.
While face-to-face activities have been put on hold, Lung Foundation Australia is working hard to adapt our support services and programs to ensure patients and their families can access the support and care they need during this time.
We encourage you to reach out to us to find out more about the services and programs available to you, via lungfoundation.com.au/connect or free call 1800 654 301.