COPD support group launching in Glengormley

Ivan and Margaret.
Ivan and Margaret.

Ivan Black, a local man living with COPD, is encouraging others with the condition to get support after he was helped by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s ‘Breathing Better’ service which will be launching in Glengormley on November 20, World COPD Day.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a name used to describe a number of long–term lung problems which can make breathing difficult.

In 2015, the Belfast man was diagnosed with cancer after suffering with a persistent cough. Following chemotherapy, he had trouble breathing and one of his lungs stopped working.

Before his illness, Ivan describes himself as being a relatively fit and sociable man. All this changed due to his condition, which left him rarely able to leave the house.

It was during his Respiratory Rehabilitation that he was introduced to Pauline Millar, Head of Respiratory Services at Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS), who encouraged him to attend the charity’s respiratory service, Breathing Better.

Ivan said: “Breathing Better really helped me get out of my shell. The respiratory co-ordinator spoke to me at my level and was very helpful.

“After six months, I aimed to take part in a walk at Stormont Estate. Pauline and the rest of the respiratory group joined me.”

As well as making a physical difference to Ivan’s health, he also found the group had great social benefits, and he has formed lasting friendships with many of the people he met there, who like him, are managing their condition every day in a positive way.

Ivan and his wife of 44 years, Margaret, continue to go to the monthly Breathing Better Support Group. He now uses a portable, battery charged oxygen tank which allows him to get around more freely.

The charity’s Breathing Better service offers people living with lung conditions the opportunity to meet others who face the same physical and mental challenges as them, providing peer support, as well as offering a place for them to learn to exercise safely with their condition, and to get support in living with and managing their condition in the long term.

The NICHS Breathing Better Service is launching in the Northern Trust in Glengormley on World COPD Day on November 20. To find out more about the charity or to make a referral, contact Pauline Millar, pmillar@nichs.org.uk or 07841150949.