Why We Climb
We Fight for a Cause
"Sometimes people ask me about my puffer and why I'm putting it in my mouth. I tell them it helps me breathe," said Joe, age 5.
"I have experienced nothing worse than to see my young son struggle to breathe, and for that very same air he breathes to be polluted is unacceptable," Ange, Joe's mom.
Second Hand Smoke
Kenneth is an ex-smoker with emphysema. Drifting smoke from a neighbor's apartment made it hard for Kenneth to breathe in his own home!
Working with local American Lung Association staff, other tenants in his complex, and property management, Kenneth succeeded in getting a non-smoking policy implemented in the 500 units of his housing development.
Thanks to Kenneth, 500 families now breathe easier!
"I am on a mission to improve the odds for people with lung cancer."
- American Lung Association funded researcher
Philippe Montgrain, MD, UC San Diego
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women, responsible for more deaths than breast, ovarian, cervical and prostate cancers combined! Each year, about 160,000 people die from lung cancer in the U.S., accounting for more than one in four cancer deaths.
Emphysema & COPD
Despite having been diagnosed with emphysema, John, like so many others, found it very difficult to overcome the addiction to nicotine. Once he was able to quit smoking, he became an advocate for the 12 million Americans who struggle to breathe because of their own COPD diagnosis. The CDC estimates that another 12 million Americans have COPD but have not yet been diagnosed with this disease that kills 1 American every 4 minutes.
Breathing difficulties are not a normal part of aging. If you know someone who struggles to breathe, have them see their doctor. It might be COPD.
We Fight for the People we Love
I am engaged with the American Lung Association to help society become more aware of lung disease! Lung disease affects so many people -- especially in my family. I have lost loved ones either to lung cancer or emphysema: my mother, father and husband. And currently lung disease is affecting my son (asthma) and brother (emphysema). The American Lung Association is an advocate for research and education. My prayer/hope is that my role with the association will be able to reach others in education and advocating.
Why do we participate? Renee and I are the proud parents of two children, Rachel 4 years old and John 3 years old. They are great kids and full of life. We want them to explore, experience, and try as many things as they can and never be held back by anything. Unfortunately their life challenges were going to come sooner rather than later.
Rachel and John started breathing treatments before they were 1 year old. We hoped the doctors were wrong and we could stop the treatments. When we took a look at our families we realized just how much Asthma touched our lives. My dad and Renee's mom both have asthma. Renee's sister Lori has terrible asthma and Lori's daughter Ashley's asthma is even worse. Cousins, aunts, and uncles seemed to come out of the woodwork confessing their condition. So, we participate as a family for our family to make a difference.
My story begins in late April 2008. My mother, Nancy Stutler, had been having tremendous pain in her shoulder and back. This led her to get an x-ray where they found several 'spots' on her lung. Everything quickly became serious. She got a biopsy of her liver on April 30, 2008. After a PET scan revealed more suspicious areas the Doctor confirmed that she had Stage 4 Small Cell Lung Cancer on May 8, 2008. At this very appointment she was told she had 1-2 months to live if she chose to fore go chemotherapy. With chemo she was given up to a year but probably 6-9 months. She started chemo that next week. After 3 rounds in less than 3 months she was feeling great. She had seen a great reduction in all the tumors and her side effects had been minimal even though she was on one of the strongest forms of chemo available. She was able to celebrate her 60th birthday on July 19, 2008 with a huge party of scores of friends and family. She took her 3 oldest grandchildren on a real train ride in August. In October, she got to fulfill a lifelong dream of riding in a helicopter when a gracious man named Skye took her for a glorious trip over Grove City, Ohio in his personal helicopter. In November we began to notice she had lost some of her spark. By Thanksgiving she was in tremendous pain and very fatigued. There was nothing that could be done for several months. On December 3, 2008 my mom was admitted to the hospital with a collapsed lung. They drained 2 liters of fluid and gave her some medication. She spent 3 days there. She came home on oxygen on Saturday Dec. 6. She was told they couldn't promise her she would make it until Christmas. She must have known they were right. She sent me out that weekend to fill her wish list for Christmas gifts. We planned an early celebration on Dec 9th. Our family gathered, opened gifts, laughed and ate our usual Christmas meal. This was to be my mom's last coherent day. For the next 3 days we kept her comfortable with the assistance of several on-call hospice nurses. She deteriorated quickly yet painfully slow. On Dec. 12, 2008 at about 2:30pm she took her last breath as I held her hand and hummed Amazing Grace. She was surrounded by family and friends just the way she had been in life.
I miss her so much. She was a beacon that led everyone home and added a strength to our family that will never again be present. She watched her father die of another form of lung cancer in 1978. I have several people in my family that also suffer from lung conditions/disease like asthma, COPD, and emphysema. I have had 2 bouts of pneumonia during childhood that were frightening and painful. I made a wise decision in 2004 to quit smoking at the age of 27, a habit I picked up at 11 years old. My health has never been better!
I participate because I am finally mentally strong enough to face something this heavy for me. My mom would be so proud. I participate for those who can't. I participate for those not strong enough yet. I participate because I CAN!
Fight for YOUR right to breathe!