This story was written in November 2014. Unfortunately Lilian became ill shortly afterwards and after a feisty and brave fight against COPD she passed away at the start of March 2015. Her family want her story to be used to encourage others to join the support groups she loved so much.
Lilian Conway was a lady who didn’t let ill health control her life. Sadly she passed away in March 2015. But before she passed away she spoke to Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, whose Respiratory Group she had attended for many years, and told them how important her friends and the groups she attended were to her. Her family believe it would be Lilian’s wish to pass this message on to other people living with respiratory illness in the Bangor area.
Lilian was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 20 years ago and as the years passed her breathing worsened until she occasionally needed to use oxygen. But despite the fact that she could no longer walk and talk at the same time, this did not deterred her. Lilian explained, “When you have COPD it is so easy to decide not to go out. I did that for a while as I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t speak while walking, but now I just ask my friend to walk a bit slower or not to speak until we are in a café and then we can talk and talk.”
Lilian listed keeping up with your social life as one the most important things to do when you have a long term health condition like COPD. Another tip is not to feel self–conscious about using aids to make your life easier. She said “I resisted getting oxygen for a long time, but now that I have it, it has changed my life. I am able to go to the supermarket and, with the trolley to support me, I’ve noticed my breathing is much better.”
Lilian also said that attending respiratory groups was very important to her – she attended Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s Respiratory Group as well as a weekly exercise class. “Groups allow you to meet people,” she explained. “You get to know each other and you come to care for each other. I love the activities and the talks. And knowing the co–ordinator is just a phone call away is very reassuring.”
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke would like to pass on their sincerest condolences to the Conway family on the loss of a truly lovely lady and thank them for allowing Lilian’s story to be shared.
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.