Jazmin Chase is a 29-year-old woman from Saint George working as a Respiratory Therapist in Campbellton. At just 6 weeks old, Jazmin’s parents noticed that she was having difficulty breathing. She was diagnosed with anaphylaxis, eczema, and a rare form of severe asthma called “Brittle Asthma”. Managing this aggressive type of asthma means that Jazmin has been on steroids since she was a toddler.
“Starting at 6 weeks old, having tonnes and tonnes of steroids, prednisone, for a little, teenie-tiny kid. That has kind of been what my whole life has looked like.”
Constant steroid use meant that Jazmin’s immune system was always compromised. She says that for people living with brittle asthma, things either get better or worse during puberty. “For me, things got worse”. Much of her young life was spent in hospitals receiving treatment or recovering from asthma attacks and anaphylaxis. She had to be homeschooled because her weakened immune system left her vulnerable to contracting viruses or having intense allergic reactions at school.
When Jazmin was in grade 11, she met Dr. Andreani, a respiratory specialist who had recently moved to Saint John. Together, they decided that Jazmin would benefit from a three-part surgery called a “Bronchial Thermoplasty”. Jazmin’s asthma had caused the lining of her airways to develop thick muscle tissue, which made breathing even more difficult. The operations exposed her bronchial tubes to heat in order to remove the hardened tissue and open her airways.
She says that the next five years of her life were amazing. While the surgery was not a cure for her asthma, she was able to enjoy a quality of life like never before. She joined a women’s soccer league, started running, and went to school to become a Respiratory Therapist.
“I wanted to help people who had been in the same position as me, that person who’s sick in the bed, terrified, struggling to breathe, I wanted to help those people like the people that helped me.”
Unfortunately, the surgeries are not a cure for Brittle Asthma, and Jazmin is again facing many of the symptoms she was living with before her bronchial thermoplasty.
“I’ve had more hospital admissions, lots of prednisone… I’ve been more prone to illness again. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m looking at that sick person again, that person with really significant lung disease, because for a little bit, I felt like I was hiding and that was just my past, but now I’m facing the challenges of being someone with severe lung disease again.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Jazmin had to be put off of work at the hospital. She was immunocompromised, and vaccines were still months away, so even going to work would put her life at risk. After her vaccinations, Jazmin was able to return to work, providing care to patients living with lung disease in a way that only she can. Her lived experience with lung disease allows her to better understand what her patients are going through, and she can provide comfort and hope for the future to the people she cares for.
“I’ve always had the support of the New Brunswick Lung Association, I really appreciate it.”
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