When I think about how lung disease has impacted my life, the sad reality of my answer is that it has impacted me greatly both personally and professionally, and has been a part of my life for longer than I care to remember. As a college student dating my husband, his exercise induced asthma seemed like only a minor inconvenience that struck mostly when the weather was too chilly. As a parent to four children, three of whom fight asthma, I have learned firsthand about the terror you feel when your child can’t get enough oxygen. Asthma is no longer an occasional nuisance to me, but a constantly present enemy that I have to vigilantly battle against with daily preventatives, rescue inhalers, and occasional steroid treatments. It sounds pretty terrifying, but seems mild in comparison to what I often witness in the course of a work day.
In my professional life I work as a legal assistant to my husband. He is an attorney whose practice revolves around the representation of the victims of lung diseases. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are everyday words in our line of work, but it is hard to put into words how truly evil these diseases are. Since our firm is small we handle all of our clients personally, and often build friendships with people who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I have been inspired to witness a grandmother diagnosed with mesothelioma tirelessly serve others through a homeless ministry as long as her health would allow. I have been reduced to tears as I observed the adult children of our clients put their own lives on hold to tenderly care for parents who were literally fighting for each breath. I have seen strong, healthy bodies weakened and decimated by these diseases and the treatments that seek to eradicate them. I support the mission of the American Lung Association because I know first hand that the work they are doing is vital to the lives of so many. Through education, advocacy, and research, I pray that we can prevent lung disease from impacting others in the ways it has touched my life.