Countryfile: Charlotte Smith prepares for deer hunting
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Diagnosed in 2016, the doctor told it straight to Charlotte Smith – in 10 years time she’ll need a lung transplant or she may die. “All I could focus on was the thought that I could die in 10 years,” said the mum-of-two. In complete “shock”, Charlotte said the diagnosis didn’t kick in “like it was supposed to”, she told The Mirror. Although the impending year is fast approaching – now only five years away – Charlotte is grateful she is alive.
Plus, Charlotte’s doctor reassured her that death was the “worst-case scenario” and probably wouldn’t happen to her.
When questioned what LAM was, Charlotte replied: “LAM is the abnormal growth of smooth muscle cells, especially in the lungs, which can lead to loss of lung functions.”
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) said the condition occurs “almost exclusively in women”.
The cause behind the rare disease is unknown, but the condition is a result of an abnormal mutation of the LAM cells.
This mutation causes the abnormal growth of LAM cells, leading to holes or cysts in the lungs.
Current research suggests that the female hormone oestrogen encourages LAM cells to grow.
The growing mass also blocks the airways and prevents the lung from transporting oxygen around the body.
Sometimes, LAM cells cause issues in the lymphatics and kidneys.
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The symptoms of LAM:
Women with LAM may develop a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), which is when air gets into the space between the outside of the lung and the inside of the rib cage.
Speaking exclusive to Express.co.uk, Charlotte revealed that her “lungs had collapsed” and she was “in the hospital for two weeks”.
In LAM, if the lymphatic tissues are blocked, then there may be a bloated stomach and fluid around the lungs.
Kidney tumours, called angiomyolipomas, may also occur due to the disease.
A LAM diagnosis can take time, as it’s usually picked up following a CT scan on the lungs.
While there is no cure, medication can be taken to help slow down the progression of the disease.
For example, people with a more active disease may be prescribed rapamycin.
Inhalers may be prescribed to help ease breathlessness and oxygen therapy could be an option.
In the UK, the National Centre for LAM is at Nottingham University Hospital.
This is where the diagnosis and treatment of LAM will be instigated.
Charlotte Smith will return to BBC One’s Countryfile for a special community gardens episode on Sunday, May 23 at 6pm.
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