Canadian Lung Association Blog

Meet Volunteer Anne Kennedy Mitchell

Anne is the volunteer president of our Lung Association Better Breathers support group in New Westminster (also known as the New Westminster Puffers’ Club). During the week, Anne manages a dental clinic. In her spare time, she finds it rewarding to be of help to others, like herself, who often feel isolated and alone in coping with a chronic breathing problem.

Ann MitchellAnne has struggled with respiratory illness all her life. “I was eleven years old when I was diagnosed with asthma. It became progressively worse over time and in 2008, I was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” she said. “Then in 2012, my lung specialist Dr. Nasreen Khalil ordered an MRI, and I was diagnosed with my current condition, bronchiolitis obliterons, which means my alveoli, the tiny air sacs in my lungs, do not work properly.”

“I get winded just going up stairs, carrying things or dusting.  And I have coughing fits so fierce they led to me having a bladder operation. I’m also very sensitive to odors” said Anne.

Anne used to be a hairdresser but was inhaling so many toxins, chemicals and debris she had to stop because it made her lung condition worse. Ultimately, Anne and her doctor will have to address the possibility of a lung transplant given the inevitability lung function will continue to decline due to her progressive condition. Living with that reality is not always easy.

Working as a Lung Association volunteer support group leader, Anne is able to discuss her day to day challenges with others who face similar limitations which provides some comfort. She also hopes to work with the Lung Association to identify ways we can improve our patient support information and services. Anne said, “My lung specialist provides excellent treatment but I do feel there could be more and better support from the BC healthcare community in general. At present there is little available to patients suffering from breathing problems.”

For the time being, Anne offered the following suggestions, “Educate yourself and be as informed as possible about your condition. Also exercise as much as you can, watch your diet and maintain a healthy weight. That’s what I find works best for me.”

Ann lives with her husband Craig, who suffers from asthma. She exercises regularly, maintains a healthy diet and to manage her breathing problem depends on medications including: Spiriva Respimet (puffer), Ventilin and Advair as well as Azithromycin for bacterial infections and a nasal mist called Avomyst. 

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Carlynn Ferguson-King

Carlynn is on the BC Lung Association Communications Team.

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Posted in Asthma, COPD, Lung Health, Stories, volunteer

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