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Ms. Hélène Campbell
c/o L'Agence Mensour Agency Ltd.
41 ch. Springfield Rd.
Ottawa, Ontario K1M 1C8

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¡Hola Amigos!

I chose to greet you in spanish because it makes me feel smart, and euro cup starts today, OLÉ! 

I must admit, I am rusty when it comes to writing. Wow, I haven’t posted a blog since March 18th.

You know the stage in life where you “look back at where you were a day/week/year ago”? Well, I am definitely going through it now. 

Thursday, April 5th I didn’t think I would make it through the following weekend. April 6th, Good Friday, I got new lungs and here I am writing about it today. What a miracle to think of where I was 10 weeks ago... In our home in Toronto with my mom, and marvelous as she is, so were the delicious Reese’s I was devouring. I had a supa hawt pair of plastic Nasal Prongs attached to a compressor I referred to as ‘Darth Vader’. Vader was providing me with Oxygen, keeping my saturations stable. (I always knew there was good in him). Things like breathing, walking, even talking were feeling harder daily. I don’t know about you guys, but I get goosebumps just thinking about the difference between then and now and how sick I was. I will always be greatful to that amazing family (there are many others like this one) who, in such time of grief, decided to act selflessly and donate their loved ones organs. Because of them I am alive, dancing with my family and enjoying life with all of you today.

These days, Mumma Campbell and I have been keeping busy.

I am taking my pills daily. I have been Pumping Iron alung side at least 90 individuals who have either received lungs or are still waiting for their pagers to go off. These spectacular, strong, individuals make their way to the Treadmill room 3 times a week. As a lung patient, in order to be on the wait list, we have to do physio and it is cruicial after transplant. One of the Physio therapist likes to 'up' my workout for fun, so watch out, Ottawa (especially Barrhaven Dairy Queen, Riverside Dialysis and Cedarview Alliance). When I get home, I’ll have guns of steel. I have also been doing weekly bloodwork, chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests (to measure my lung function which has gone from 32 to 43 in 4 weeks!) and clinic appointments. They have all been going very well and the Transplant Team at the Toronto General is da best when it comes to informing us about the progress. 

Lately I have been watching Star Wars. As you know, my home oxygen was referred to as Darth Vader. Well, my oxygen provider took ALL my oxygen away just this week, (NO MORE OXY = BIG STEP) so I had to replace Darth with The Real Vader. I am going to use a quote from Star Wars that is the perfect example of progress after transplant. 

“Impressive... *deep breath in, deep breath out* Most impressive… *deep breath in, deep breath out* But you are not a Jedi yet!” - Darth Vader 

In the words of Vader (then tweaked into my own words), my recovery has been amazing. I have been feeling remarkable and can do so much more then I could, but I am not a 'transplant Jedi' yet. The process is not an Instant Snap back to life as soon as they ‘put’ the new lungs in. Nobody becomes a Jedi simply by visiting Yoda. You have to train, and get stronger and stronger and eventually, you have the ‘force’ and strength to do things and live life ‘like a Jedi’, or in my case a normal life. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, I apologize. My analogy wont make too much sense then. . What I am trying to say is, I need to keep up the physio and activity, because transplant recovery is slow and progress comes with time.

As eager as I am to go back home, I understand having to stay here for an extra few months. I miss my extended family and all my friends but boy do I ever have the best support there ever was. And Thank goodness for Skype!

 I want to let you know I have been so blessed by the endless love you all have shown our family, it has kept us going. I have been so fortunate and am so thankful to the Donor Family, as well as the medical team over at the Toronto General.

I am going to need a glass of milk now, Just ate a 'crunchy reese' yep. they exist! (Thanks Hersheys!)

LYLT, have a wonderful weekend (enjoy a reeses if you can...and watch starwars)



ps Remember to register as an organ donor today at beadonor.ca and give blood, its whats inside that counts.

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Reader Comments (11)

hello hélène

im a little late. i've only learned about your story 2 months after you had your double lung transplant. here in brazil we dont get ellen but like you im a huge fan so every now and then i go on youtube and watch the previous shows, and thats when i first 'met' you :)

people like you bring me hope for a better world. there's this song by a german band called 'silbermond'(thats the band not the song) that brings up the question 'why are we here? to be nazis and kill each other?' your story, the way people all around the world got involved and supported you and your family, thats why i think we are here for. i mean i believe we are here to love each other and help and care for each other despite boundaries, religion or skin colour.

we are all connected and that i know for sure. otherwise, how could a girl i never met and who is miles and miles away from where i am still have such an impact in my life? many people didnt hear about your story so they wont connect to you but they connect to other people that they've heard about. do you know what i mean?

hélène, now i can only hope for you to recover very very soon and keep getting stronger and stronger. these are my thoughts for you.

lots n lots of love.. from brazil


ps: please dont mind my english

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdanyloal

You are an inspiration Helene! I live by this motto/mantra: "any possibility + any opportunity= experience". You can do anything you desire, Helene; remember this!

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBA

So happy to hear about your progress!

You mentioned where your lung function has gone up to 43% in four weeks. How high are doctors expecting your function to get up to once you've healed, and as you continue to work out and do physio? Will you get over 80% in the end? Or higher? I know any improvement is a HUGE improvement, based on how you described things before your surgery.

Keep up the great progress!

June 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGalFromAway

Helene; You are an inspiration. You make me cry....but in a good way! Stay strong!

June 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim A

You are an amazing example of hope even in the darkest of days. Fighting for life is hard, and you have gone well beyond. Thank you for being such an inspiration to others!!! :)

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDi d

Hi Hélène,

I've been on the wait list for just over one week now. I saw you in the physio room back in March, when I was in Toronto for my assessment. It was a busy time then so I didn't want to bug you and so was hoping I'd see you in physio now that I'm listed.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen you. I know you're a busy girl, but I was hoping maybe we could grab a coffee or have lunch? I'd love to meet you and swap ridiculous medical stories!
I don't have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis like you; I have Cystic Fibrosis.
Hope to talk soon,

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Dear Helene: Many blessings on you dear one! May God continue to bless you as He uses you in such a wonderful, powerful way! Love to you and your family! Big hugs!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

My sister is in Toronto General right now in the ICU waiting for a lung transplant, been waiting for 2+ weeks. It's heartening to hear about your success and progress. We're so deep in the trenches we almost can't see out. Hoping and praying for new lungs. Best wishes Tim

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim D

Dear Helene,
I have been struggling with my own chronic medical issues the last few years and am so impressed by your attitude to your illness and recovery. I find it hard not to feel discouraged at times and this morning was one of those moments as I struggled with the possibility that my disease is progressing and the likely prognosis when that happens of 3 to 5 years survival with cancer treatment, but with no current cure in sight.
When I saw you dancing with that big roomful of other people it was so inspiring to me and I deeply appreciated your acknowledgement in your comments of realizing you might have died that weekend if the transplant had not come through just then when you so needed it.
If I can find the strength to battle on as you have done I will be a happy man.
Best wishes from your friend on the west coast.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert in Victoria BC

Hi Helene, this is the first time I am writing to you, even though I have been followiong your story since I arrived from my country (Brazil). I used to be a nurse in Brazil and worked with kidney transplant patients. Your story is an inspiration for everyone. I have been praying for you and your family, also for those who decided to be a donor (like myself, of course) and their grieved family. I am very happy for you and wish all the amazing things that you can have. I am sure you are a wonderful girl and deserve everything good from the world. Thanks for sharing your experience. Take care. Rochelle.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRochelle

Helene - you are an amazing person. Welcome home. We know what it is like to come home after a life saving transplant - Carson received a new liver in Nov 07 at TGH and had to spend two months in Toronto. It seems forever when you are waiting to get back home. Keep strong and stay positive.

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