A woman who vaped for less than a year is now battling a deadly lung disease at just 35 years old. Lucy Turchin, 35, from Washington State, has d
A woman who vaped for less than a year is now battling a deadly lung disease at just 35 years old.
Lucy Turchin, 35, from Washington State, has dropped out of her masters degree and cancelled her wedding because her illness has become so severe she requires hospital treatment every week.
She now rarely goes outside due to the debilitating pain from hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which causes severe inflammation in the lung tissue.
The former student has spent $30,000US ($45,000AUD) on treatments to get better and fears for the worst.
‘I hardly ever leave my house because of the risks of exposure to smoke and vape fumes while out in public,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
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Lucy Turchin, 35, from Washington State, vaped for five months before she noticed an effect on her lungs. She’s now been forced to drop out of her master degree and cancel her wedding after being diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis causes severe inflammation in the lung tissue. ‘I would do anything to go back in time and have made a different choice. I cry a lot and wonder why this happened to me,’ Lucy says
‘This is all terrifying to me. I am traumatised and have a lot of fear.
‘I would do anything to go back in time and have made a different choice. I cry a lot and wonder why this happened to me.
‘The world seemed to be at my fingertips before this.’
To help her give up cigarettes, Lucy started vaping aged 31, but after just five months of tobacco and cannabis e-cigarettes she noticed an effect on her lungs.
She now struggles to catch her breath has a ‘chemical burn feeling’ in her lungs and constantly feels like her lungs are swollen.
‘It’s feels like there is a cloud inside them.’
Doctors have ruled out cigarettes as a cause of her hypersensitivity as the problems with her lungs started soon after she started vaping.
She saw a slight improvement when she stopped vaping, but her pain flared up again when she took up the habit seven months later.
At first, she was misdiagnosed with asthma and anxiety as her X-rays were clear and her oxygen levels were normal.
Doctors have ruled out cigarettes as a cause of her hypersensitivity as the problems with her lungs started soon after she started vaping
Lucy does ice baths every day to help with her pain and sensitivity
But after three years of pain being dismissed by doctors she was hospitalised and given a high resolution CT scan.
The scan showed bronchial thickening, which means the passages to her lungs were getting smaller as well as white spots on her lungs and scar tissue.
Things quickly became worse and Lucy had to cancel her wedding and drop out of university.
‘My life is dedicated to healing. Nothing else matters. I live in constant pain and depression,’ she said.
‘I can’t imagine any kind of future because the present is consumed by pain. I don’t know when I’ll ever get married.
‘That stuff seems so trivial now. Air is the only thing that matters now. I hope to finish my masters degree some day.
‘I hope to marry the love of my life and put on a beautiful white dress.’
Lucy said when she saw her mother after her shattering diagnosis, they cried in each other’s arms.
‘I told her how sorry I am that I chose to vape, that I ruined my life with this decision, and that she is now suffering too.
‘She told me do not put that on myself and said I am already carrying enough’.
After overcoming huge challenges in the past, Lucy believed the worst was behind her.
She found love and was finishing her masters degree to become a therapist.
‘My fiancé is an optimist. He believes I can beat this,’ she said.
‘We do the Wim Hof breathing method and ice baths every day. He always tells me I’ll get through this and everything will be alright.
‘I fought so hard for the life that I have now – only to lose a tremendous quality of life from vaping.’
Lucy now goes to the ER every week to get steroids, and her pulmonologist – a doctor who specialises in lung conditions, has ‘finally listened to her cries for help’ and put her on antibiotics.
‘I still am in lots of pain but trying to trust that the medicines will start working,’ she said.
‘If they don’t, in another month’s time, we will try something stronger. I also use steroid inhalers’.
Lucy added that the ‘medical community doesn’t have any experience with vaping’.
‘It’s still too new. So they didn’t know how to help me.
‘They didn’t even believe me that something was wrong.
‘I was so desperate for answers and relief that I paid out of pocket for expensive tests and treatments. I spent a lot of money on alternative medicine.
‘My family has helped me spend over $30,000 on acupuncture, tests, doctors and treatments while my insurance denied my claims because my X-rays were clear.
‘The money though, to me, doesn’t matter. To find healing and relief from this pain would be priceless.’
She has shared her story on TikTok and said she receives between three and five messages a day from other vapers who are also ill.
The former student has spent $30,000US ($45,000AUD) on treatments to get better and fears for the worst
‘Mostly they are scared and depressed, and their doctors are telling them that their X-ray is clear and that this is all in their head.
‘It’s the exact same thing that happened to me.
‘People write to me and tell me how grateful they are that my video appeared in their feed, they thank me and say “I may have just saved their life”. I have validated the suffering of so many people”
Lucy issued a warning to other vapers.
‘To those who are vaping, you are not immune. You may have been lucky thus far. I once thought that I was immune too. Some people smoke cigarettes for 60-70 years before they get cancer. Some people never get lung cancer.
‘But that’s only because they have been lucky. You are playing with fire.
‘People need to be made aware of the risks.
‘But that also they need to be made aware that we cannot and will not truly know the risks until more millennials and Gen Zs are dead from vaping.
‘We will not know until it is too late.
‘I wish vaping was illegal in the USA. But of course I wish that. Because then I probably never would have vaped. And this would have never happened to me. And the beautiful life I had been building would be mine.’
Lucy believes that the ‘worst is yet to come’.
‘I am not the first person to get hypersensitivity pneumonitis from vaping. I will not be the last either.
‘The archive of messages I keep from other vapers who are sick, leads me to believe that the worst is yet to come.
‘Millennials and Gen Z will pay the price for this. We are victims of the vape companies praying on our addictive personalities.’
‘Addiction is a disease. All the people who love to remind me that this is my own fault are not helpful voices to the conversation. I got hypersensitivity pneumonitis from vaping.
‘I’ve never used disposables, carts, black market e-juices, defective devices.
‘People ask me all the time what brands I used. They want there to be one brand, one company to stay away from to avoid this. There is not. There is no common denominator.
‘Everyone who is sick used different devices and brands. They all lead us to the same miserable illness, or other vaping illnesses that are equally miserable.
‘It’ all vapes that are the problem. Not a specific one.’
Emily Banks, a professor in epidemiology and public health, told FEMAIL that research is still needed on the effects of vaping but there is evidence to show it has adverse effects on the lung health of young people and non-smokers.
‘Imagine your lungs, if rolled out, they are size of half a tennis court.
‘When you use an e-cigarette, you heat an e-liquid to a very high temperature.
‘This creates an aerosol which the user inhales.
‘Two hundred and forty four chemicals have been found in e-cigarettes, and that fills up very sensitive tissue.’
Professor Banks pointed to a study from the US showed that those that smoked vapes with vitamin E acetate and THC (cannabis) see more severe effects.
‘We have some, but limited evidence, vaping can cause reduced lung function.
‘There’s a huge amount of uncertainty about what this can do to the lungs.
‘Some people interpret a evidence as “this is probably okay” – but in public health its better to avoid if it can because harm.
‘Smoking is incredibly damaging to your lungs, it causes lung cancer, and other lung issues.
‘The best thing smokers can do is quit. And three-quarters of people who do quit and succeed do it cold turkey.
‘In Australia, e-cigarettes are only recommended to quit smoking.
‘But they are now being marketed to young people and not used to quit, and young people face a significant risk.