How Did It Come to This?
Some people are scared, some are in denial and others are wary of the stigma attached to COPD — the attitude that says if you smoked, you deserve it. However, all of these concerns can be overcome by learning about your disease and by learning that it isn’t all doom and gloom.
Make a Commitment to Living Well
I know of people who have lived long and happy lives with good management of their COPD, just as I’ve known others who never truly understood their disease, tragically cutting their lives short.
As my journey continues it becomes harder to see people go through hardship with their disease, as I am living proof that you can successfully manage COPD. When I was first diagnosed I was scared of the future; when I first started learning about COPD, it seemed it could only be a downward spiral.
Being proactive with management of your COPD is a must on the path to acceptance as its only when you start fighting your disease that you find true acceptance of what you’re dealing with.
You only need to type "inspiring COPD patients" into your search engine to find many patients living an improved quality of life. It doesn't matter what stage of COPD you’re at: refusing to accept your diagnosis is a surefire way to cut your life short.
Recently a friend of mine with COPD, Vanessa Smith, completed a half marathon using oxygen. Vanessa is one of many active COPD patients who refuse to give in to this disease. I know of other patients who travel around their country talking to patients about how they've made positive change to have an improved quality of life.
My own journey has led me down a similar path. My blog COPD Athlete is where I detail my adventures and achievements to help motivate other patients. Rather than sit around feeling sorry for yourself, wouldn't it be better to help yourself to help others?
A Never-Ending Journey
There's no doubt that when you walk out of the doctor’s clinic after being diagnosed that you'll have trouble fully comprehending the gravity of your disease. That understanding can only come with time and taking the right path. Talk to experienced people in the respiratory world, whether they’re patients or healthcare professionals, and they will tell you that they never stop learning about COPD.
For me, acceptance has come from education, learning that COPD can be managed and that I can have a good quality of life. Yes, there will be things I can't do and being short of breath is a normal part my life. That's OK as there are plenty of things I can still do, like Ironman races and the New York City Marathon, for example.
Helping other patients find their feet and guiding them in the right direction is very rewarding. More and more we hear of patients living well with diseases that were once considered a death sentence. So join the army, accept your diagnosis and make your world a better place!