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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
'I lost most of my lungs to cancer'
Jane Elliott
BBC News Online health staff

The CDs help breathing

When Vera Hensby had two thirds of her lungs removed after cancer she had great difficulty breathing.

Speech was very difficult and her voice was breathy.

But now, seven years on, she is speaking, singing and whistling without any problems and she credits her success to a specially developed breathing CD and plenty of exercises.

The 'Relax and Breathe' CD, which has been developed by Macmillan Cancer Relief and the Institute of Cancer Research uses relaxation techniques to help people cope better with their symptoms.


And once people have learned the special breathing and visualisation techniques they can, like Vera, then use it at home.

"It was very good and the music was lovely and I did all the exercises."

After my operation it was very difficult to breathe
Vera Hensby

But as Vera explained only a few years ago life had been very different.

An ex-smoker Vera, from Hertfordshire, became very worried by her constant cough.

The doctor diagnosed repeated chest infections, but Vera was not convinced.

"I felt terrible and somebody suggested I changed my doctors. They gave me an MOT and said that the top part of my lung had collapsed.

"I then had an X-ray and they told me there and then that there was a shadow on my lung.

"I can't remember walking out and going home."


That was in the July and in the September I had to have two-thirds of my lung removed at Harefield Hospital.

"They told me I had six months to live and they did not know what they would find when they opened me up. They did say that they might not even be able to operate and might just have to stitch me up again.

"After my operation it was very difficult to breathe.

Lung Cancer
38,000 new cases diagnosed each year
94 people in the UK die day from lung cancer

"I was told that in the first six weeks after the operation that I should not do anything not even make a cup of tea."

Since then, however, Vera has confounded medical opinion - these days she is even fit enough to play badminton and bowls.

"I really helped myself a lot and found that whistling was good and I used to sing along to the music in my car and try and hold the same notes as the singers," she said.


Now Vera said she feels back to normal, but admits she still needs to take things slowly and carefully when walking up hills.

Gill Oliver, Director of Service Development at Macmillan Cancer Relief, said the CD would be very useful to many people with lung cancer and other breathing related diseases.

"Breathlessness is common in people with lung diseases.

"A natural response will be to tense up and use the chest muscles to breathe more quickly. When practised regularly, these relaxation exercises can help people to relax, and breathe and also give them a feeling of being able to cope more easily."

To order a free copy of the Relax and Breathe' CD, call the Macmillan Resources Line on 01344 350 310. The CD is also available on audiotape from the same number.

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