Make More Good for July 2020 – Lung Foundation Australia

Edge Environment’s monthly ‘Make More Good’ donation sends $300 to a worthy cause nominated by a staff member. In July, 2020, Senior Consultant, Jenni Garden, chose the Lung Foundation of Australia to be the recipient.

Through my position with Edge I get to work every day to help increase trees in our urban areas, to help communicate and raise awareness about the importance of trees, not just for the environment and the climate, but for our own mental and physical health and well-being. Trees are often referred to as “nature’s lungs”, they filter pollution from the air, and they ‘inhale’ carbon dioxide and ‘exhale’ oxygen, which is such a wonderful symbiosis for us. It is somewhat poetic then that my chosen charity is the Lung Foundation Australia…though perhaps not for the reason you may think.

Let’s just take a moment to inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…breathing is such an easy, natural, essential action that we rarely take time to think about and appreciate it. So take a few seconds right now to take a deep breath….really deep…let it fill your lungs…feel your chest and back expand with its life-giving force…hold it for a couple of seconds…then slowly release and feel your body and mind relax just a bit. How good is that?! But now, imagine you couldn’t do that, imagine how it would feel if with each passing day it became more difficult to breathe, even the minor breaths become an absolute chore, if you woke at night coughing and gasping for air….it’s a terrible thing to imagine and makes me feel tight in the chest and panicked just thinking about it! Sadly though this is the reality for people living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a rare lung disease that progressively, and irreversibly, creates scarring in the lungs, making it increasingly difficult to breathe. It’s a very rare and complex lung disease, and very little is known about it.

In mid-2013, my Dad was diagnosed with IPF. Dad was the fittest man I’ve known, he never smoked and rarely drank. He was an exceedingly patient, wise, and supportive man…he was interested in life and people’s stories – his small talk with strangers was second-to-none…and his ‘dad jokes’ were on point! He loved nature and being outdoors, he loved making/fixing things (he built nearly all the houses we lived in!), he loved running, but more than anything he loved his vintage BSA motorbikes, his wife, and his 3 kids with a quiet, though undeniable passion. He was my rock, and I was his ‘little girl’. After years of having a persistent dry cough that doctors couldn’t explain, his condition finally worsened enough to give a diagnosis. Within a month of Dad’s diagnosis, he and mum relocated from Tasmania to Adelaide where my sister lived, and myself and my brother relocated from Brisbane so we could all spend time together in Dad’s final journey. Dad passed away in February 2014 leaving a void that will never be filled. From the loss and sadness though came positives…for the first time in 20 years our whole family lived within minutes of each other rather than in different States (or countries)…I landed a job with an exceptional consulting company which I still love working for today…and I met my husband and settled down in to married life.

Six years on though, I must admit I still feel greatly let down by science – a field that my whole life has centred around – it didn’t have a cure for IPF! Yet IPF can affect anyone….they don’t know what causes it. Seven million Aussie men, women, and children are battling some form of debilitating, and often fatal, lung disease. Thanks to Edge for being a company that walks the walk in creating real change – our donation to the Lung Foundation Australia will go towards advancing life-changing research and providing support services to those suffering from this little known disease.

One final reminder…take a deep breath…let it fill your lungs…

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