UHN helps gives singer breath to sing again

You might say singing helped save Eileen Harvey’s life. That, and the respirology team at Toronto General Hospital, UHN.

The Nova Scotia-born singer-songwriter with four CDs to her credit has been battling a rare lung disorder called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) for the past eight years. She believes singing has helped keep her lungs moving and also helped prevent scar tissue characteristic of the illness from thickening and making breathing more difficult than it already is. Although IPF treatment is evolving, there is no known cure.

“I’ve come a long way in eight years,” says Eileen, who, along with her husband, teenaged daughter and two dogs, picked up and moved to Toronto from Nova Scotia last year to be closer to her care at TGH and to be ready to be put on the list for a lung transplant if her condition warrants it.

Eileen says Dr. Ken Chapman and the team at Toronto General Hospital made her feel right at home.

“Even though my husband is a doctor, Dr. Chapman and his team answer questions in a way that I understand,” she says. “They are all worried about me, but I feel like I’m in the best hands possible. It’s a great comfort that they have the most up-to-date information on a disease that little is known about.”

Eileen says that while she awaits the possibility of a lung transplant, she continues to live her life as best she can.

“I don’t want to live by waiting,” she says. “We work around it. We go to concerts and shows and live as much as we can.”

Eileen has also started lending her singing talents to other patients by conducting workshops at Toronto Western Hospital called Singing to Breathe.

Although breathing is not easy, Eileen is at a point where she can still perform and share her talents.

And that’s music to everyone’s ears.


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