Meet Sylvia Williams

Sylvia Williams quit smoking cigarettes 18 years ago. But the damage was already done. About six years ago, she started coughing uncontrollably, and it hurt across her back. She went to her doctor, fearing that she had developed lung cancer.  The good news was that it wasn’t lung cancer. The bad news was that she was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

With new medication and improved treatments however Sylvia remains positive and carries on a full, active lifestyle.

Sylvia attributes her ability to rise above her COPD to helping others, taking care of herself, and maintaining a sense of humour.  

To keep busy, she works with seniors, she volunteers at the Royal Canadian Legion in Parksville, and she is very active in her church, often helping to prepare after-service coffee and cake. She also makes sure to get regular check-ups by the respiratory services team at her local hospital – “a great, great bunch,” says Sylvia. And, she’s a regular of the Nanaimo Better Breathers support group, which she has attended since first diagnosed.

“It doesn’t matter that I’m 72. I’m still the same ‘me’ I’ve always been. Sure sometimes my COPD gets me down. I can’t do the things I used to be able to do, even a year ago. But my motto is, I’m still kicking so quit complaining!”

Sylvia arrived in Nanaimo from Newmarket, Ontario 23 years ago. Her husband had retired and their daughter lived in the area. Since arriving, Sylvia has also become a grandmother with whom she spends as much time as she can.

She is also a regular at Better Breathers Nanaimo, where she has been attending since first being diagnosed.

“Bernie, our local Better Breather Group Leader, has such a nice way, and brings in a lot of terrific speakers who give me a lot of important information on COPD.”

The Nanaimo Better Breathers serves people with COPD, asthma and other lung conditions from Parksville and Lantzville in the north to Cedar in the south. For more info email Group Leader Bernie LaFrance at





Page Last Updated: 16/12/2015