In February 2019, I participated in BC Lung’s Climb the Wall stair climb fundraiser event. I had committed to climbing in support of lung health as a part of a team from LIVE WELL Exercise Clinics where I go to keep fit. I have a common and sometimes debilitating condition called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I have battled lung problems most of my life, beginning with chronic bronchitis from a very young age.
How did your lung journey start?
Through my teens, I struggled with asthma and frequently had pneumonia. When I was 16, they removed part of my right lung. Right up until my mid-fifties, I fought life-threatening asthma – enduring frequent lung infections and hospitalizations.
Fortunately, by my late fifties, my asthma and frequent hospital visits had decreased. But then came a diagnosis of COPD – which is not uncommon. People who suffer from severe, persistent asthma at a young age are nearly 32 times more likely to develop COPD in adulthood. Thankfully, with help from my specialist and other lung health professionals, I was informed about my condition, including how important it is to exercise.
How has exercise continued to play a significant role in your life?
Determined to take control of my health, at age 62, I signed up at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic in White Rock. It’s one of a growing chain of exercise clinics that specializes in coaching people who are intimidated by more mainstream gyms unaware of limitations and fears many with chronic conditions face.
With the help of my exercise coach Stacy, I’ve gone from struggling to walk up even the smallest incline, to hiking Quarry Rock in North Vancouver – and from using the rowing machine in the gym, to joining my local Rowing Club and rowing outdoors! There’s no question – for me – exercise has been the best medicine.
Climbing the 48 flights of the Sheraton Wall Centre in support of the BC Lung Association – and paying it forward to support others who also deal with lung disease – was hard work, but my health improved exponentially. I no longer suffer any breathing difficulties and have not once returned to the hospital. When I began exercising regularly in my sixties, my goal was to improve my overall health and strength so I could enjoy my senior years without relying on my family to take care of me. So far, so good.