My wish is to inspire hope in someone living with lung disease, that research can one day make a difference for them, and if not for them, for our future generation... It is an investment worth making.
Improving lung health one breath at a time is a mission priority The Lung Association of Saskatchewan and Dr. Erika Penz both share. With lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, Dr. Penz wants to enhance the care people with a lung cancer diagnosis receive. The Saskatchewan respirologist has many roles including researcher and a self-proclaimed “burdenologist”. “Through my research, I try to first understand and second, improve the burden that both individuals and our health system face when dealing with lung disease.”
The doctor’s work today is significant in instilling hope for Saskatchewan’s future. “I have found that patients with lung cancer spend an enormous amount of time in hospital and often this time is in the last month of life. In fact, 80% of lung cancer patients who die, die in our hospital beds. Understanding the reasons why this occurs and how changes within our health system can improve the experience for these patients and their caregivers is one of my goals.”
Motivated by her patients, colleagues and medical students, Dr. Penz believes that everyone she interacts with is an opportunity to make a difference and learn from. “My wish is to inspire hope in someone living with lung disease, that research can one day make a difference for them, and if not for them, for our future generation. I also hope that I can inspire someone who wants to make a difference in the lives of those living with lung disease to do so by supporting Lung Sask. It is an investment worth making.”
In addition to her research, Dr. Penz invests her time advocating for legislation and policies that will prevent lung cancer and other diseases in the future. She has also been an expert panelist for Lung Sask’s Saskatchewan Quits Online Support Group.