When Breath Becomes Air is this months Ballymena book club choice and we hope that lots of you are reading along. This memoir is a difficult but rewarding read which focusses on the life of Dr Paul Kalanithi who is diagnosed with Lung Cancer.

Lung Cancer Support - Ballymena Book Club

via Penguin.com

Any diagnosis is difficult to bear but the word cancer seems to come with a heavy weight. Many of us know and love people who have been touched by this disease. We cant carry on with our book club until we have shared some advice about lung cancer and shared details of our local Ballymena support group.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • a continuing cough, or change in a cough you have had for a long time
  • becoming breathless and wheezy
  • coughing up phlegm (sputum) with signs of blood in it
  • chest or shoulder pain
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • a chest infection that does not get better
  • a hoarse voice
  • a dull ache or sharp pain when you cough or take a deep breath
  • difficulty swallowing
  • feeling extremely tired (fatigue) and lethargic
  • the ends of fingers becoming larger or looking more rounded (clubbing)
  • swelling of lymph nodes (glands) in the neck area

If you have any of the above symptoms for more than three weeks, it is important to have them checked by your GP.

Do not delay visiting your GP. If it is lung cancer, early diagnosis and treatment could save your life.


If your GP thinks you have symptoms that could be caused by lung cancer, they will refer you to a respiratory consultant for a chest x-ray. GPs can order an x ray.
There is also a rapid access clinic in the Trust, where your GP can make an urgent referral to the respiratory consultant.

Lung Cancer Support - Ballymena Book Club

Photo by: Matthew Henry via BURST

Support groups in Ballymena

The Northern Trust lung cancer information and support group is an informal group where members decide the format of each meeting. It is open to patients, families and carers affected by lung cancer. There is no charge for attending the group.

The group meets on the first Thursday of every month from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Meetings are held at the ECOS Visitor and Conference Centre, Kernohan’s Lane, Broughshane Road, Ballymena.  For more information, please contact the Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialists, Macmillan Unit. Telephone: 028 9442 4716


More information on support groups in general is available here at the NHS cancer services website.

Please share this information with anyone who you know would appreciate it and continue to follow our book club as we read When Breath becomes Air together.