Photography Exhibition with People with Respiratory Illnesses Launched

A group of patients with respiratory illnesses are breathing new understanding into the reality of living with their conditions through a unique photography exhibition which was recently launched in Ballyfermot Library by author Patricia Scanlon.

There are an estimated 310,000 people living with COPD in Ireland and many more with other respiratory illnesses including early TB. The Photovoice project was developed to give people with respiratory illness a voice and to create a space for patients to express, through images, their experience of living with these conditions. The participants hope the images will generate dialogue with healthcare professionals and the wider community about their lives and living with illness.

The photo project and exhibition involved a group of eleven patients who were attending St James’s Hospital respiratory clinics, community and hospital respiratory nurses, staff from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a community artist.

Speaking about the participants’ stories, Project team member, Dr Geralyn Hynes, Associate Professor in Palliative Care, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity said: “Living with respiratory conditions can be hard work. Physically, breathing problems and coughing can be exhausting. It becomes necessary to pace oneself or break down activities so as to conserve energy. Everyday activities become more difficult. Anxiety and depression are common. Breathlessness can be frightening and it is all too easy to become more socially isolated because of fear of triggering breathlessness from being out and about.”

“The stories that are captured in the exhibition are about resilience, hope and love rather than about illness and about ‘ordinary’ lives that are, of course, never ordinary.  The project gave us a richer understanding of life and the importance of looking beyond the label of illness.” Dr Hynes said.

It reminds me that we all are born like this flower, very bright. At some stage we all grow up colourful with lots of dream. Because of our life style we all suffer some kind of disease in some stage like this flower. Have a look at the bottom of this flower, it is dying naturally. This flower doesn't have a choice that’s the reason we take bad habits like smoking, alcohol or unnecessary tablets. We can change our habit but too late the damage is done. So it is all about choice even if it is too late. Mohammed, 2014 The Stigma: haven't you heard the ‘elder speak’: slow... staccato... three to four decibels louder than necessary? Well, the COPD version is similar though it’s silent, it regularly judges, it automatically excludes. The Shame of it: everyone agrees the disease is self-inflicted – should have known better – the tax payer foots the bill for reckless behaviour – will the stares increase when I roll out my portable oxygen trolley? Terri, 2014

Sometimes when I am alone in my car, I cry silently at not being able to do certain things, like breath properly and some chores are now hard to do. Helene, 2014 The garden is our haven, my daughter and I. It brings us peace. I nurture the greenery and she nurtures the colour. The garden, my daughter and I, we nurture each other.  Through the garden we find love and peace. It makes our day every day. Mary, 2014

The project was funded by the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust.

The exhibition will run in Ballyfermot Library until the 28th of February. Admission is free. 

Media Contact:

Yolanda Kennedy, Former Press Officer for the Faculty of Health Sciences | | +353 1 896 4168