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Our top 10 stories of 2014

This year we launched our blog - here are my favourite stories so far.

People are at the heart of everything we do. Our blog lets all the different people affected by lung disease tell their stories.

In our first year we've welcomed people living with lung conditions, their friends and families, the people who look after them in hospital and the community, campaigners fighting for better lung health, scientists who are dedicating their lives to looking for more effective treatments and the amazing folk who take on incredible fundraising challenges to raise money for the BLF.

Every single story is special, but these are my 10 favourites so far.

1. A lung transplant saved me from IPF

On New Year's Day, Joyce received the phone call she'd been waiting almost a year for. She'd been living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a condition that cannot be cured - but a lung transplant gave her another chance.

"Slowly day by day I’m getting stronger. I’ve been totally off oxygen now since January and the hospital are really pleased with my progress. Physically it has been as I expected, if not slightly easier, but I don’t think I was prepared for how emotional I would find this stage.

"Life will never be back to normal but we’re looking as a family to create a ‘new normal’ and I am so thankful to be given this second chance." Joyce's journey


2. My devastating experience of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lungs. Caused by exposure to asbestos, it's one of the more difficult medical conditions that people have to face, and we've been campaigning for a sustainable research fund to find better treatments.

Chris lost her husband Mick just a few months after his diagnosis. Since then she has raised more than a million pounds for mesothelioma research.

"The doctor confirmed the diagnosis, and the news got worse. For mesothelioma, there was no treatment, no cure and no hope. Mick had just six months to live. Stunned, we walked out of the hospital with our arms around each other. It was a beautiful July day, the sun was shining and we found ourselves at the coast.

"We sat holding hands looking out to sea in total shock. We were soul mates, and always had been since we first got together – how could we possibly cope with life without each other? My heart was broken." Read Chris' story


3. IPF – the final stages

David talks about how he's dealing with the final stages of IPF in this honest and open blog post.

"While I am excited and curious about what comes next I have no fear about it.  I am also curious about what comes after, especially as I face the end! I find that few people want to talk or contemplate dying, death and after death. 

"Yesterday I told the plumber with a big smile I was moving towards the end and doing just fine but the body was a bit of a bind.  We ended up laughing." David's blog


4. Getting out of breath left me fighting for my life

Getting out of breath is often overlooked, but as Marion found out it can often be a sign of bigger issues. She shares her story and explains why it's so important to see your GP if you're experiencing breathlessness.

"When I realised there was something wrong, I was working in the medieval town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire. It’s a hilltop town so I often had to climb the steep, stone steps to get to work.

"I realised that it was taking longer and longer to get to the top. I had to stop half way up to get my breath back. I even had much older people overtaking me." Marion's story


5. How we choose life-changing research

Every year, our research aims to increase survival rates, improve diagnosis, treatment and care, and develop our understanding of lung diseases. We get a huge number of research proposals, so Ian explains how we choose the most important projects to support.

"The process might sound long and laborious, and it certainly relies on lots of reviewers and committee members working without being paid for it. But with a great deal of effort going into putting an application together and valuable donations to spend, it’s vital that we operate a robust system for judging applications to make sure that our funding decisions are based on sound reasoning." How we choose our research


6. Smoking in cars – together we can make change happen

We began the year with the amazing news that MPs had voted in favour of banning smoking in cars with children. Thousands of BLF supporters asked their MPs to support the ban and Mel, part of our campaigns team, thanked everybody who helped make this achievement possible.

"Campaigning can feel endless at times – it often requires many years to make change happen. However, our smoking in cars campaign has been an incredible journey – after only three years we have encouraged government to agree that a ban is vital to help protect our children’s lung health, and we expect it to become law early next year." Mel thanks everyone involved


7. Breathing more easily in Hardwick

Our Breathe Easy groups provide support and information for people living with a lung condition, and for those who look after them. This year, our groups have been working more closely with local health services to help members manage their condition on a day-to-day basis.

Philip wrote about how it's making a difference to the people in his group.

"There are some great characters emerging within the group and tight friendship groups are forming. Sometimes it helps just to talk to somebody who understands what you’re going through, and some members use the group as a first port of call when feeling ill.

"My hope is, with the help of the people around me, I’ll be able to play with my lovely granddaughter without any problems." Philip's Breathe Easy group


8. I quit smoking – here are 6 reasons you should too

When she was 54, Margaret was told her lung capacity was around 30 per cent, and that it would only get worse if she continued smoking. Determined to make sure nobody else has to go through what she has, she shared 6 reasons why smokers should quit.

"I really miss my home: the home where I spent many happy years; the home where my children grew up. I dread one day being housebound and unable to do anything for myself. I enjoy my independence and I know one day I might have to go to a nursing home – but I really hope that won’t happen. I keep that in the back of my head to make sure I stay positive." Margaret's tips for giving up


9. Your Big Breakfast events were a big hit

This year we launched 2 new fundraising campaigns - the Take Steps walking challenge, and our Big Breakfast events. Heather, who keeps in touch with people who raise funds for us, picked out some of her favourite breakfasts.

"Barbara invited her friends and family round to her flat in Mirfield for cakes and buns. She chose to support the BLF as her brother has COPD. Her guests enjoyed the delicious breakfast food and also took part in a raffle. Her local MP, Simon Reevell, also came along to show his support and helped Barbara raise over £200!" Our favourite breakfasts


10. Keeping active changed my life

Ann was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 15 years ago and gave up on many of the things she enjoyed doing. But recently, she's discovered that keeping active can make a big difference to her quality of life.

"At first I really struggled; 2 minutes on an exercise bike, 14 wall pushes, 2 minutes slowly on the flat of a treadmill, the smallest weights for 5 or 6 goes…and I was exhausted! But after a few weeks and with such great encouragement from Andy, our instructor, I really did begin to feel so much better and my stamina improved a little each week." Ann's exercise journey

Thank you to everyone who has read the blog this year, shared their story or added their own experiences in the comments. We could not do what we do without you.

If you have a story you'd like to tell why not get in touch? I'd love to hear your story.

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23 December 2014