Running short of breath is not an option for West Australian multi-wind instrumentalist Mark Cain who has had asthma since childhood. To perform at his best, this professional musician relies on maintaining good lung capacity despite a life-threatening medical condition that could potentially leave him struggling for air.
A number of years ago, repeated lung infections and severe asthma that required high doses of corticosteroids and multiple courses of antibiotics threatened Mark's performing career.
In a profession spanning more than 20 years, his musical expertise includes playing saxophones, bass clarinet, flutes and a range of ethnic wind instruments, including bagpipes and shawms – not a typical profile of one who is faced with breathing challenges.
While Mark says mastering wind-based instruments had helped him to breathe properly and improve his lung function naturally, there had been times when his asthma was poorly controlled and he had struggled to perform.
'My lungs have been compromised by a lifetime of asthma and infection', says Mark.
'In the past, I have sometimes performed under difficult conditions when I have been seriously unwell, where breathing, let alone playing a wind instrument, has been a challenge. I suppose at times it's been a 'show must go on' attitude that has kept me going. I have clear memories after one street performance just sitting on the ground, utterly exhausted, and just wondering where my next breath was coming from.'
'I have also been made aware of the importance of regular exercise and have been attending Pilates classes to improve aspects of posture, fitness and core strength. A healthy diet has also contributed to keeping me on stage and has benefitted my playing enormously.'