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5 Ways to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

“Health brings a freedom very few realize until they no longer have it.” ~Bonnie Ware

Health Brings A Freedom... : So Very Blessed

That quote has rung so true to me this year from the smallest to the very biggest of ways. I went from forcing myself to get out to run to aching to be able get out and run when I was dealing with pain from my IT band. I took it for granted that I could just lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. Not anymore. A friend’s life was transformed overnight when he was diagnosed with brain cancer and his days suddenly included chemo treatments and appointments with neurosurgeons. My mom recently broke her arm in the middle of planning a big family reunion and moving to a new house. It’s hard enough to simply get dressed with a broken arm, but to try to pack, load, and unpack boxes after just having surgery to insert a plate and screw into your arm? That gets pretty complicated!

So many things are easily taken for granted – legs that we can walk on pain-free, a heart that beats in a normal rhythm, a brain that sends signals to regulate body function like it’s supposed to, and lungs that breathe like they should.

Headshot2015Heather Von St. James knows that feeling all too well. She was 36 years old in November of 2005 and had just had a baby with her husband of 6 years when she got the diagnosis – malignant pleural mesothelioma. Cancer. A rare cancer that affects the membrane surrounding the lungs and chest well (more information about pleural mesothelioma can be found here). She was given 15 months to live if she didn’t pursue invasive treatment (with no guarantee of results), which wouldn’t even give her enough time to see her daughter’s 2nd birthday.

Her father had worked with drywall while she was growing up and, unbeknownst to any of them, exposed Heather to asbestos fibers on his construction jacket. Even though it has known health risks, asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada.

before surgery

Heather decided to pursue treatment and after undergoing a heated chemotherapy solution and having her left lung removed, now, 10 years later, she is a survivor, and she is using her lung power to spread the word about mesothelioma and keeping your lungs healthy.

Family shot

And October just happens to be healthy lung month!

Healthy Lung MonthSo, how can you keep your lungs healthy? Here are 5 ways :

#1 – Eat well and stay active. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular movement and proper nutrition keeps your weight in check and improves your lung capacity.

#2 – Prevent infection. That bad cough you get from colds and respiratory infections can wreak havoc on your lungs, so wash your hands, brush your teeth, and do your best to avoid catching and spreading those germs.

#3 – Regular checkups. Prevention is the best action plan, so see your doctor regularly to stay healthy and catch problems as soon as they arise.

#4 – Be aware of your surroundings. There are pollutants all over the place, so do your best to avoid chemicals, secondhand smoke, radon, and air pollution. Your lungs will thank you.

#5 – Don’t smoke. It’s one of the most common tips for keeping your lungs healthy, because it is one of the most harmful things you can do to your lungs. Don’t do it.

You can read more about Heather’s story here.