Mary Stewart - Ottawa, Ontario

I was a nurse for 25 years, so I knew about a serious lung condition called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Many of the patients I cared for had COPD. And so did my mother. But I was playing the game of denial.

I had experienced shortness of breath, coughing, recurring chest infections and bronchitis. But I didn’t realize that I had COPD until my doctor officially diagnosed it. I’ve been living with COPD for the past 17 years. Having

COPD hasn’t slowed down me down.. I work out regularly at a gym, swim at a local pool and play golf in a league called “The Golden Girls”.

That first 10 to 15 minutes of exercise can be hard. When I swim, I have to go slow and build up. But you gotta stay active. Pace yourself and don’t give up.

I’ve seen people who have been diagnosed with COPD take to their chairs. I saw that happen with my mother. You have to keep moving. The less you do, the less you can do.

You’ve got to learn to read your own body. Monitor yourself closely to see if you have shortness of breath. Pace yourself. But don’t give up. You gotta stay active.

Dave Ritchie - Brantford, Ontario

When I grew up, kids started smoking around age 15. I smoked from age 15 until I was about 35. A few years after I quit smoking, I started to notice that I was getting short of breath, coughing and spitting up phlegm. Second-hand smoke started to really bother my breathing.

When I retired, I went to work tending bar at a local golf course and there was a lot of second-hand smoke there. The second-hand smoke really did me in. I went to my doctor and was diagnosed with COPD.

I now volunteer at the local respiratory rehabilitation program and help raise awareness about COPD. I’m a former school principal, so I guess education’s in my blood. I’m known as the COPD’er of Brant County.

Even though I have COPD, I still sing in my church choir. But I don’t sing solos anymore. Singing helps me with my breath control. If you use good diaphragmatic breathing, you take in more oxygen. The more natural oxygen you breathe in, the less artificial oxygen you have to take in.

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Page Last Updated: 25/09/2014