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Ron B., CA

I have had asthma since I was nine-years-old. I'm now 72 and still have asthma symptoms. I like to try to go out and walk and get some exercise, but the air-quality in the Los Angeles area, especially in the valley where I live can be very bad certain times a year.

I take several forms of medication daily, and I always use a rescue inhaler. As I write this letter, I have to stop and take a squirt of my rescue inhaler. It's tough living with asthma.

I can remember when I was a child, how much school I missed because of asthma attacks. In those days I would go to a doctor who would give me adrenaline shots. Because in those days that was the quickest form a relief.

Looking back on my life, I now know why I have asthma. I grew up in a home where my father and my brother smoked. Of course in those days, nobody knew the dangers of cigarette smoke. Being only nine-years-old with my lungs still developing, I know now that the cigarette smoke caused me to develop asthma.

Also on cold days in New Orleans where I grew up, my dad would burn stone coal and wood in the fireplace to keep us warm. I now know inhaling all that smoke contributed to my asthma. I have learned to live with it the last 60 years, but I wish to God that I had never developed it.

My prayers go out to kids who have asthma today; it's a terrible sickness. I used to call it when I was a kid the coward sickness, because it always attacked me at night when I was laying down sleeping.

My poor father would stay up with me all night making sure that I took my medication on the hours that I was supposed to. But lots of times, of course, it never helped.

I was never able to participate in gym or physical activities in school when I was a child, but I'm not bitter. As I said I am 72-years-old now, and I'm sure I don't have much longer to live.

I will continue to manage my asthma. Fight air pollution and anything else that causes asthma. When all of us pull together, we can make a difference. It's my sincere hope that before I die there will be a discovery to cure asthma. Thanks for listening to my story, and continue to fight for clean air.

First published: May 8, 2014

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