Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Lynn Ashton was havinga happy Christmasdinner until a candle set her plastic tablecloth alight.
"We were taking a break after the main course when one of my children said she could smell something funny," says Lynn.
"I rushed into the dining room to find the plastic tablecloth and the dining room in flames. I threw the tablecloth on to the patio,but by then I hadinhaled a lot of toxic fumes."
She sat outside trying to get her breath. Initially, she didn't go to the doctor. But over the next few weeks, her breathing got worse. She was already an asthmatic and smoked around 15 to 20 cigarettes a day.
"I spent the next four months in and out of hospital with chest infections," says Lynn. "At times, my breathing was so bad I could barely bend down to tie my shoelaces."
Lynnwas diagnosed with COPD and bronchiectasis, an abnormal widening of the air sacs in the lungs. It was a shattering blow, and she stopped smoking immediately.
But Lynn was determined to stay strong. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild.
"My prognosis wasn't good at first," she says. "I thought, I can either sit around and be miserable or I can live life to the full. I wanted to see my grandchild grow up. I wanted to help other people with COPD. I believe things happen for a reason."
Lynn is on a treatment regimenwhich includessix different drugs and a nebuliser. Two years ago she had a small catheter fitted,which passes from the lower neck into the windpipe and delivers oxygen directly into her lungs. It's held on by a discreet chain around her neck. "Iclean it several times a day andit's wonderful," she says.
Lynnnow helps other people who have COPD. Shejoined a local support group in Huntingdon called Hunts Breathe for Life, which she now chairs, and started to raise money for the cause.
"I started off doing some short walks. Then it occurred to me that I'd love to do the London Marathon. I called the British Lung Foundation and they were very enthusiastic and offered me a place. But when I told them I had COPD and was on oxygen, they were rather worried."
Lynn started her training by walking for just one minute on a treadmill at her local gym. Gradually, under the supervision of her nurse she increased the time until she was ready to realise her dream.
"It took me five days to finish the marathon," she says. "I had a trolley to help me walk and had my oxygen with me at all times. Every afternoon I'd go back to the hotel and rest. It was a wonderful experience. I raised over 14,000."
Lynn believes in living life to the full. "There was a time when I was very angry, and that's normal. I still have bad days. But when I look around, I see that there's always someone worse off than me."
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. Many people don't realise they have it.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes breathing increasingly more difficult. But it develops slowly over many years and you may not be aware you have it at first. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, a persistent cough and wheezing, etc.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) occurs when the lungs and airways become damaged and inflamed. It's usually associated with long-term exposure to harmful substances such as cigarette smoke, or fumes at work, etc.
See your GP if you have persistent symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They may also carry out or arrange for you to have a breathing test called spirometry and some of the other tests like chest x-ray, etc.
If your COPD is affecting your breathing, you'll usually be given an inhaler. This is a device that delivers medication directly into your lungs as you breathe in. If you experience symptoms regularly throughout the day, a long-acting bronchodilator inhaler will be recommended instead.
It's important to take good care of yourself if you have COPD. Some of the main things you'll be advised to do are; take your medication, stop smoking, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, etc.
Read the story of Lynn Ashton, who was diagnosed with COPD after she noticed her breathing was getting worse.
Read the story of Eddie Brownlow, who has diagnosed with COPD after smoking 15 cigarettes a day for most of his life.