Karen Deitemeyer lives in Florida and is a member of the COPD Patient Advisory Group. She has been involved with the American Lung Association for nearly 20 years and has served as a volunteer, local leadership board member, patient advocate, and walk participant.
Karen was diagnosed with COPD officially in 2001, but had most likely been living with the condition for 10 years prior. When she first received her diagnosis, she was very upset as she had quit smoking but had no idea that the effects would be irreversible. Her symptoms included extreme shortness of breath and not being able to walk up the stairs and do her housework. At that time, Karen was placed on 24/7 oxygen and was given inhalers but did not receive any education. But after losing weight and participating in pulmonary rehabilitation, Karen only needed oxygen when exerting herself and at altitude.
She eventually found and participated in a couple of online support groups and was later referred to a pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) program. Following her PR experience, she joined a Better Breathers Club and continued to learn from patients, caregivers and clinicians.
Of the many hats she has worn as an American Lung Association volunteer, Karen was excited to recently serve as one of three patient investigators on an Airways Clinical Research Centers (ACRC) Network grant. The grant was the first of its kind to be funded through the ACRC that includes patients. She found it to be an educational experience and looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate with clinicians and researchers and share the patient perspective.
Karen is retired from county government and enjoys reading and spending time with her 3 grandchildren and great grandchild. She volunteers because, as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.