Tiffany Hedman, English National Ballet, Photo by Karolina Kuras
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DANCERS’ HEALTH: BREATHE EASY

English National Ballet‘s Tiffany Hedman talks of her determination to keep dancing whilst suffering from one of the world‘s rarest health conditions.

Three years ago at the peak of the pandemic, I sat down with English National Ballet’s Tiffany Hedman to discuss her unique and incredible health journey that has seen her battle with one of the rarest conditions in the world for much of her career, Catamenial Pneumothorax. In 2020, Tiffany had been in good health for a few years (save for a kidney stone episode exacerbated by her condition), consistently on stage doing what she loved. She was cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately, her battle was, and remains, far from over. Now, I catch up with her again to find out about her latest dramatic chapter, her experiences and her unwavering determination to keep dancing.

Before we continue, it’s important to take a moment to understand more about what Catamenial Pneumothorax (CP) is. The condition occurs when the diaphragm’s tissue spreads so thinly that it develops a hole so air and blood trickle upstream and get jammed into the chest cavity between the chest wall and lung, compromising the lung. It eventually closes itself up, but then the air is trapped outside the lung so it can’t be reabsorbed. CP is very rare (there are approximately a few hundred known cases in the world) and (therefore) not really understood. There are a handful of potential solutions but for a working professional dancer, few of them are viable.

 

Photo by Karolina Kuras

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