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Jessica M., PA

When I was a child and had asthma attacks, I remember being scared about being unable to breathe, but I don’t remember thinking I was going to die. I was in and out of emergency rooms a lot, but I always got better.

My parents got me treatment and once I got it under control, my asthma soon became just a memory. I had no problem with gym class, and I competed in sports.

My asthma came back when I was 30, and at that time, since it had been years since my last asthma attack, I seriously thought I was having a heart attack. I thought I was going to die.

I got a rescue inhaler, and in 12 to 18 months, I again had my asthma under control. But the fear of not being able to catch my breath and thinking I was having a heart attack is still fresh in my memory. That's because even though I have my asthma under control, I get reminders of it every time I step outside.

I'm a runner now, and while I like running outside, I just can't do it in the summer when the heat and humidity teams up with smog making breathing nearly impossible. I've competed in many half marathons and recently ran my first full marathon. Yet, bad air will stop me in my tracks. I've been a volunteer with the American Lung Association for many years now, because I support the work they do in fighting for healthy air.

First published: July 9, 2013

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