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My name is Linda Jewell and this is why I walk

(October 30, 2018) -

Linda Jewell participates in the Fight For Air Corporate Cup to raise awareness and educate people about the disease she suffers from, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She also hopes to raise money for research to fund better treatments and abolish the stigma associated with lung diseases.

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and more than 11 million people nationwide currently suffer from the disease. For people with COPD, the airways of the lungs become inflamed and thicken over time making it more difficult to breathe. Though there is no cure for COPD, the good news is that it can be found early, when much can be done to treat and help manage the disease. People can live with COPD for many years with the help of medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, regular exercise and social support.

“Early diagnosis of COPD is very important, because you can slow the progression of the disease with proper medical care,” said Jewell.

On March 10, 2014, after nearly six years of being misdiagnosed with asthma, Jewell was officially diagnosed with COPD. This misdiagnosis is not uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of people suffer from COPD, but have not been diagnosed and are not being treated for the disease. After her diagnosis, she was hospitalized for 11 days

“I was breathless all the time. It got worse and worse and worse. One morning, I barely managed to get in the shower and wash my hair, but didn’t have the energy to dry my hair,” said Jewell. “It [COPD] is like going under water and you can see the top to get air, but you can’t swim up to get that air. You are suffocating.”

She decided that she was going to do something to keep herself active and saw an advertisement for the Corporate Cup. Since she lives far away from a pulmonary rehab facility, she hired a personal trainer to help her get active and train for the event. Her trainer, William Roden, owner of Will Power Fitness, has a Bachelor of Arts in Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and Sports Management. Although he is not a respiratory therapist, he has gone far and above his profession as trainer to further educate himself in pulmonary disease. With his knowledge, he has created low impact, resistance and strength exercises which include the very important breathing exercises.

Each year, with only 30 percent lung function, Jewell walks the 2-mile Corporate Cup course alongside her 11-year-old grandson, Michael Loomis, and her trainer, Roden.

“When I walk, I know that people who are running by me are running for people who suffer from lung disease or who have died from lung disease,” said Jewell. “I walk to show other people with lung disease that they can do this, too. Every year it is more difficult to breathe, but all I can do is walk. I am trying to live. I live with this disease and will die with this disease, but I am not going to die from this disease,” said Jewell.

During the Corporate Cup, she wears a COPD shirt to help educate people on the disease and to reduce the stigma associated with lung diseases.

“While smoking is one of the major causes of COPD, many people who suffer from it never smoked. Secondhand smoke and many other pollutants contribute to the pervasiveness of this disease. There should be no disease shaming because someone smoked. I do the Corporate Cup to reduce disease shaming,” she added. “I also do the Corporate Cup because it gives me something every year to look forward to. It is one more year that I have survived this terrible disease.”

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