By Claire Mulvihill, Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Lung Foundation Australia
Being diagnosed with a lung disease or experiencing a change in the progression of your lung disease, can be difficult. From the time of diagnosis and through the disease journey, you along with family members are faced with adjustment, often resulting in a loss of independence and confidence. It may mean lifestyle changes or compromises and can raise difficult emotions including depression, anxiety, anger, regret or guilt. Whilst emotions are part of the body’s natural response, it doesn’t mean they need to take over your life.
Our 2017 Patient Survey found almost 60 per cent of people with a lung condition said they ‘do the things they love’, such as hobbies, less often. One third felt isolated and 39 per cent saw their family and friends less often. It is important to know there is emotional support available in many forms to help you adjust so you can live well and manage your lung condition. You don’t need to cope on your own.
Acknowledging and accepting your feelings and calling on support, even if it’s one person, can make these challenging times a little easier. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family and friends to support you through these times.
Health professional team
It’s important to see a range of health professionals who can help you with your individual needs. They can provide you with coping techniques or refer you to an appropriate professional such as a psychologist or palliative care specialist.
Support Groups provide an informal environment where you can share information, support one another and discuss ways to cope with the challenges of living with a lung disease.
Taking part in regular physical activity is an important part of keeping well with a lung condition. It can help improve your overall wellbeing, your ability to do everyday tasks by reducing breathlessness, and make you feel more in control. Read more about the importance of exercise on pages 3 and 4.
Palliative care team
Palliative care professionals can support you and your family to improve your quality of life so you can live as well as you can for as long as you can. Palliative care complements your active treatments – such as clinical trials – whilst also addressing your symptoms to ensure you get the best out of each day. This might include introducing other therapies to alleviate shortness of breath or relieve overwhelming physical and emotional symptoms.
Support for carers
Naturally, as a carer you might feel the need to try and solve any problems, however it is important to access your own emotional support when needed.
For further information or support, please contact us via our freecall Information and Support Line on 1800 654 301.