Maureen’s story


My name is Maureen, I’m a mother of three daughters, a grandmother to four and a great-grandmother to one. In 1960, aged 19, I left my home town of Bundaberg to undertake my nursing training at Royal Brisbane Hospital. I predominately specialised in Oncology nursing and retired in 2013. Sadly, in 2014, I lost my brother to lung cancer.

It was around 2008 when Maureen was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

It just creeps up on you.

“15 years ago I was diagnosed with Mycoplasma Pneumonia on two occasions within a six month period. The cough was present, severe and paroxysmal and sometimes almost incessant.”

“Because I had a couple of episodes of pneumonia, I was suspicious there might be a trigger.

I was finding it difficult to walk up and down stairs at my local train station without becoming short of breath.

I had a spirometry test to diagnose COPD and now see a respiratory specialist every three months as well as a cardiac specialist.”

“In the past three years I was also diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, with an exacerbation of shortness of breath on exertion.”

“I am fortunate that my diagnosis hasn’t negatively impacted my working or personal life. My mobility and ability to walk any distance, particularly up hills or stairs, is limited but in general COPD doesn’t affect my day-to-day life.

I won’t let it stop me from doing the things I love like road trips to visit my family.

To help live well with her condition, Maureen has completed a six week pulmonary rehabilitation exercise program at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital and continues to complete the exercise she learnt at home. She also attends the Geriatric Assessment and Rehab Unit on Lutwyche Rd where she does various programs including a balance program.

Maureen is passionate about better education for young people around the dangers of smoking.

“Having smoked for over 40 years I was not surprised that my lungs were compromised. My family strongly objected to my smoking and was very verbal about this. However it was my lifestyle choice that I did not want to cease as it was not compromising me personally in anyway.

“There been so much promotional information about the dangers of risk factors such as smoking and work place health and safety, but it’s had limited success.

“The addiction of smoking is a very difficult habit to break and social interaction can trigger a desire to partake.”

There needs to be better education from an early age and programs included in primary school levels to ensure young people are made aware of the consequences of smoking and its effect on your body and lifestyle as time goes on.”

Despite its challenges, Maureen lives life to the fullest.

“In my retirement I enjoy road trips in my lime green convertible Saab that I bought for myself as a 75th birthday present.

“I love driving to visit my sister and her family in Bundaberg and my daughter and family who live in Glen Innes. My other two daughters live nearby and we often drive to Fingal Head and enjoy surfing.

“My whole family has had the pleasure of travelling the highways in my car.”

Maureen’s life mantra is:
Be a girl with a mind,
A woman with attitude and,
A lady with class.

Sharing your personal experience with lung disease is a compelling and inspiring way for others to learn about and cope with their diagnosis. Your story may also encourage people to identify and act on symptoms they are experiencing, which may otherwise have been ignored.

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