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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 10:19 GMT
'My fight against emphysema'
Pauline Purvis
Pauline Purvis believes more investment is needed in respiratory disease
Lung disease is now the biggest killer in the UK and now accounts for one in four deaths, according to a report published on Wednesday.

But the report, published by the British Thoracic Society, claims the government is not giving respiratory problems the priority they need.

Pauline Purvis was diagnosed as suffering from emphysema 10 years ago.

For seven years the only treatment available to her was steroid treatment which had terrible side effects and did not make a significant difference.

But two-and-a-half years ago Mrs Purvis underwent lung reduction surgery after taking part in clinical trials.

She says the operation, which involved cutting out the diseased part of her lungs, transformed her life - but not everyone is so lucky.

This is her story:

Ten years ago my life was not nice.

As anyone with lung disease will know, at times it can be quite frightening because you cannot breathe at all.

It means that you cannot walk very far. You are so restricted in what you can and cannot do.

Stairs are a problem, so you need to think ahead and if there are going to be stairs you have to find an alternative route.

The problem with something like emphysema is that it is an invisible disease. You can look perfectly well but in fact you are probably feeling ghastly.

But the operation gave me my life back.

Beforehand I was crawling up stairs, unable to get up without having to stop and take a rest.

Last November I actually walked 330 steps to the top of Big Ben.

The sad thing is there is so little treatment available for sufferers.

I think I have been one of the very lucky ones.

And because it (the operation) did so much for me I just wish passionately that everybody was given the same opportunity.

I think respiratory disease is treated as a poor relation when it comes to funding and I think much more investment is needed.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Specialists say lung disease is a growing problem in Britain"
Dr Martyn Partridge, British Thoracic Society
"Worrying firgures when you compare us with the rest of Europe"
Jeremy Bowen of Breakfast
discusses the recent study from The British Thoracic Society
See also:

29 Jul 00 | Health
Lung disease gene discovered
22 Aug 00 | Health
'More women suffer lung disease'
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