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The BLF helpline changed my life

Karen lived with her COPD in silence for years. Then she rang the BLF helpline.

Karen in London

I was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 16. It was difficult in the summer because of pollen, and I’d often end up in A&E, but apart from that, my lungs were okay. I kept on exercising normally, walking everywhere and using my blue inhaler. 

I needed to talk to someone

All of a sudden one day, I got a very bad chest infection. Things got worse, and I ended up collapsing three times over Christmas. I could no longer exercise like I used to.

Everything became a struggle. 

But I didn't speak up about how I felt because I didn't want to tell people what really happens when my chest starts kicking off.

I decided I really needed to talk to someone. I found the British Lung Foundation on Facebook, and someone there said to give the helpline a call - so I did.

I'll remember that day forever

When I came off the phone, I cried with relief.

Even though this was a couple of years ago, I’ll never forget what the helpline said to me.

"We get so many calls like yours.”

When I came off the phone, I cried with relief. Now, for the first time in a decade, I understood that I wasn't alone. I can't tell you how much of a difference it made to me. I have found out that unless you have lung issues yourself, nobody can really know how it feels, the pain and how hard it is to get about, or even talk.

I'll remember that day forever.

The BLF website helped me

With support from the helpline, I found out more information about my condition. They were very supportive. 

I also had a look at the British Lung Foundation website. 

The stories on the website had a big impact on me. There’s one about an athlete who was a former marathon runner who was diagnosed with COPD, and a photo of him with his oxygen. He still goes running. I think it’s just fantastic because it shows that even when things change, you can still do it - and that is my attitude!

I was so grateful for the help and support from that phone call that I did my own sponsored walk for the BLF, walking around Whitskeed Park in Kettering. I walked 12 miles!

It took me over five hours and my feet were killing me at the end - believe me!

Just keep on going

Lucy with her son
Karen in the gym

Now, I've ended up back in the gym. When I first went, with my GP's permission, I got on the treadmill thinking, "I’ve just got to see how far I can go with the limitations I’ve got."

Afterwards, I was really happy!

I know I can’t push myself like I used to, and don't go for 12 mile walks anymore. But if you keep working at it, you will go on helping your lungs. Work within your limitations, stop and have a rest when you need to, then just keep on going, again and again.

Pick up the phone

If you’re feeling a little bit worried or anxious, my advice is to take a deep breath and pick up the phone to the helpline. If I hadn't have called the helpline I would not have known and understood what I know now.

I’ve had some fantastic GPs but sometimes they can’t give you all the information because sometimes there’s not enough time. 

I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t called the helpline. I probably would have just carried on, feeling like I could never tell anyone what was happening. I’d kept my COPD quiet for so long. 

Finally being able to talk about it made a massive difference.

How to speak to our helpline

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Call to 03000 030 555 to speak to one of our team over the phone. We aim to answer within 6 rings, and calls will cost the same as a local call.

Find out more or send the helpline an email


I have trouble breathing whenever I move doctors cannot find a reason say I am an enigma.had every scan poss at various on oxygen but would not say this helps much.been short of breath most of my adult life but things came to a head two years ago.have a brill resp team but they are all at a loss.get very depressed and sometimes feel there is no point fighting.
While there is little we can do about the outside air we can take steps to improve the home environment by reducing the build-up of fine particulates. It's important to use an extractor fan when cooking and to avoid open fires or wood stoves. The fine particles they emit cause blood vessels to contract and this can be particularly dangerous for those with heart or lung conditions. If you live in a neighbourhood where homes are using wood stoves the air pollution can be higher than at the roadside. Smoke pollution should always be reported to your local council - just one stove emits the same dangerous gases and particles as 25 diesel trucks. Councils are being told to monitor areas with high pollution & you may be able to get an abatement order if you live in controlled area. PM2.5 emissions should not exceed 10ug/M3 (WHO) so you have every right to be concerned if levels in your home or outside are exceeding this. I hope this is helpful. Kind regards, K Baines

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24 November 2017