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Awaiting lung transplant an ordeal for Paige

Felix Paige receives strong support in his health ordeal from wife Maude Joe. - submitted
Felix Paige receives strong support in his health ordeal from wife Maude Joe.
— image credit: submitted

It's been quite an ordeal for Cowichan Tribes' Felix Paige since being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

But the community, the support of his family and his culture is helping Paige get through it.

A recent fundraising auction for Paige in advance of his double lung transplant surgery raised $1,862 and he's extremely grateful.

Wife Maude Joe did the bulk of the work to make the auction a success as well as his girls Hilda and Leslie-Ann, sister Sherry Thomas, and good friend Jonathan Joe and his son Arnie Joe.

"This will help us with costs in Vancouver after the transplant,'' noted Paige.

He was told in September that he only had 33% of his lung capacity left and would have only three to five years to live.

"I did not tell my family at first,'' recalled Paige. "I did not know how to deal with this news. I went to see my cousin Wayne Paige and I asked him to go with me to tell my girls.''

He was only able to tell his oldest daughter because his youngest was attending Camosun College in Victoria.

"I then told my mom and my mate,'' noted Paige. "I then did not talk to anyone about this situation for over a year. I avoided thinking about it.''

Paige's doctor referred him to a specialist in Nanaimo, who in turn referred Paige to a specialist in Vancouver in November 2011. It took a year until November 2012 before he got an appointment.

Paige will have to live in Vancouver for three to six months after the transplant. Both his lungs will be taken out since he's younger than most recipients.

He's now waiting for the call that could come as early as July.

Paige keeps busy as best as he can, but it obviously plays on his mind.

"I work two jobs, 55 hours a week,'' he indicated. "I work with people who have disabilities and I am a youth worker for 19 teens who live in a youth housing complex, three floors and 20 apartments.

"Working so many hours, this allows me to avoid thinking the worst. Prayers help me through the day.

I carve three to four days a week. I read a book every six to seven days. I believe that with working six days a week, carving and reading, this keeps me away from the pity pot.''

Paige added when his thoughts do turn to his situation, it scares the hell out of him.

"I cannot walk up three flights of stairs, I cannot walk up hills, I cannot power walk,'' he pointed out. "I get right out of breath. I can almost go into an anxiety attack because I feel that I cannot get any air in my lungs.''

Paige said he wants to stay positive for his family and "my culture helps me stay positive.''

Wife Maude is planning another fundraising auction for July 8 at the Somena Longhouse.

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