Life is hard. Taking care of the bills, cleaning the house, raising the children: at the end of the day, it all adds up and can be very stressful.

Maggie Minister, 48, of Nemaska, is dealing with a much more serious situation of life and death. She is currently trying to get on a waiting list for a bilateral lung transplant. In other words both of her lungs need to be replaced, and fast.

She was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at the Val d’Or hospital in 1999. Numerous tests have been done, but doctors still aren’t sure of the cause.

“The thing that really affected me was when they told me I had five years to live,” she said. “Well it’s been five years and I’m still here. The doctors can tell you certain things, but I believe that it’s all in the hands of God.”

She has to meet certain requirements to be put on the list, and is waiting anxiously to find out if she qualifies. If she makes it onto the list, the wait for new lungs could be a year or more.

One of these requirements is the patient must live or be living with someone who is within two-and-half hours of the hospital. If the hospital calls, Maggie has to drop whatever she’s doing, pack her clothes and head for the operating table.

She recently traveled to Montreal for a two-and-a-half-week stay at the Maison des Greffes du Québec, which loosely translated into English, means the house of transplants. While she was there she went through series of scans, blood work and other tests to see if she qualified to be on the waiting list. If they find out she has a life-threatening disease such as cancer, they will not operate on her. She was supposed to be notified about her status in two-to-three weeks, but says it has now been a month and she hasn’t received any word.

Maggie says her trip to Montreal was heartwarming. “I was glad that I could meet and talk with other people who are in the same situation as me. I was happy to be there. Seeing how high their spirits were helped me a lot.”

The hospital also requires a strong home support system. Maggie’s son, Johnny, comes by and helps by cleaning up the house, cooking, and keeping her spirits up. This visits are something Maggie cherishes dearly. “I’ve always given to people so I find it really hard to have to depend on anyone. We always tell each other how much we love and appreciate one another. I want to make sure he knows that, because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be on this earth.”

The people of Nemaska have been very supportive as well. She says friends drop by to give her a hand from time to time and she appreciates the love she feels from everyone in her community.

Maggie has a very difficult time breathing. It’s so bad in fact that she has to wear an oxygen mask for the better part of the day. The deterioration of her lungs has also affected her mobility. She is essentially stuck in her house, waiting for the call from the hospital. This is something she’s had a rough time dealing with. “At this point, the hardest thing for me is not being able to get up and go out when I want. My energy level is down and I can’t go anywhere without the oxygen.”

When her family goes out in the bush for Goose Break, Maggie must stay behind. The cold has a terrible affect on her lungs and she can’t risk joining her loved ones. Even if it means missing out on something she enjoys immensely. “I love going out into the bush. Even though I can’t get out there when it’s cold, I go out in the summer. I look forward to it.”

Maggie would like to thank all those who have helped and prayed for her in her time of need. These people include the doctors, her friends and family, the house of transplants, and anyone else who’s been there for her.

She would also like to encourage people to donate their organs by signing the back of their healthcare card. It only takes a second and you could be saving someone’s life.