Sharon O'Hara
Her Story
taken from the Washington ALA website

 
"Living with COPD/Emphysema and Sarcoidosis was a living death. I existed. I struggled to breathe, when I moved I panted, gasped for air like a fish out of water. As I slowly showered and dressed, ready to go somewhere, I couldn't sit down to rest. I fell asleep. I went from a physically active life landscaping, restoring a wonderful property in Port Townsend to a blob who existed in front of her computer. I searched the world web to discover what COPD/Emphysema was - what Sarcoidosis was, everything, anything I could find out about my diseases and the medications I took.

I couldn't sleep in a bed - I couldn't breathe - I dozed sitting in a chair. By the time I arrived at the Pulmonary Department at the University of Washington Medical Center, I believed my days were numbered. Previously diagnosed with COPD/Emphysema, an open lung biopsy showed the fibrosis and granulomas of Sarcoidosis evenly throughout both lungs. Without energy, I felt isolated, without a purpose, a shell, a mockery of the person I used to be.

I regretted a 40-year smoking habit, but didn't dwell on it. The single most difficult thing I've ever done is stop smoking. I craved cigarettes and for the first time understood a drug addict's 'craving' for a drug. I craved a cigarette many times a day, then almost daily for more than two years. Even today, occasionally the urge to smoke a cigarette becomes almost overwhelming.

That is how I felt then. Today I'm energized with purpose. I found a support group online - the non-profit EFFORTS, begun by COPD'rs, run by COPD'rs and filled with folks like me working to change the world's awareness of COPD. I want other lung folks to know they are not alone and how they can lead the best quality of life possible. I want to see Spirometry tests for patients. common place among physicians - to catch COPD early - before it is too late. Other than stop smoking, the single most important thing Lungers can do for themselves is exercise.

And from the time I learned of the American Lung Association® of Washington 's Big Ride Across America, it is my dream - my goal - to ride it in 2005." - Sharon

EFFORTS© 2004
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