In my mind, I still run: Speaking out for all COPD patients

In my mind, I still run.

Those simple six words were once shared by a close friend and fellow COPD patient. These words encompass everything I feel about having COPD. While my body no longer has the ability to do what I once did, I don’t quit playing the game; I simply play it at a level that reflects my present ability. Such is the life of a COPD patient --- and there are more than 20 million of us in the United States.

As a senior director with the COPD Foundation and a patient, my story is like so many others I hear every day through emails and COPD360. I speak daily with people who are feeling helpless, afraid, confused and unable to accept what COPD is doing to their life. Their life goals become simplified, like wanting to walk a block, dancing at their daughter’s wedding, being able to leave their house. One man I spoke with, a hero from September 11th, just wants to play with his grandchildren. My advice is always the same:

  • get educated about the disease and learn to spot problems before they occur
  • take your medications as prescribed
  • diet, exercise,and stay active
  • and (a big one!) get involved.
Too many of us sit and wait hoping someone will find the answers we need in time, but the truth is that it will take a lot of people working together to find solutions we need. One COPD patient is a voice…many COPD patients together create urgency and action.

Participating in something like the COPD Patient Powered Research Network can focus research and speed the development of new treatments and technology. Becoming involved with advocacy is easy and can lead to more funding for research. Even participating on a site like COPD360 Social can help others learn lessons you have already mastered.

The COPD Foundation regularly teams with pharmaceutical companies like GSK, medical technology manufacturers, research centers, doctors and other medical professionals along with our patient community because we know that by doing so we can improve quality of life for COPD patients, and maybe someday find a cure. Maybe some of us will even run again.