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Therese S., MI

I’ve been fighting for the environment and clean air since I was 10 years old, when the very first Earth Day was held. But it’s also personal for me. My daughter and I have asthma and my mother died of lung cancer.

My mother was a smoker, but she was also a school crossing-guard. She inhaled a lot of diesel fumes from the buses, while she was helping keep kids safe. You can’t tell me there’s not a connection between lung cancer, respiratory problems and the environment.

Last summer, we had abnormally high heat and humidity here in the Detroit area. There were a lot of Ozone Action Days when the air quality was really bad. Those of us with asthma really struggled. I missed a lot of work, couldn’t exercise and basically had to stay indoors as much as possible. My rescue inhaler was a lifesaver. I definitely needed it just to function. 

My daughter is 17 now and doing great. But when she was about two years old, she’d cough so hard at night that she sometimes threw up. Her doctor said it was just seasonal allergies, but when we switched pediatricians, she was finally diagnosed with asthma and given medication.

We’re grateful that her symptoms aren’t severe now that she’s in high school. As long as she uses her rescue inhaler before any heavy physical activities she’s fine. But outside of my family, asthma impacts me professionally too. I’m a registered nurse and an asthma case manager. I also work with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. I see first-hand how hard it is for these people. 

Every Congressperson needs to read our stories on the American Lung Association website. They won’t need to read too far to understand. Who would not want to protect our right to clean air? The Clean Air Act has made a remarkable improvement. I don’t understand why we have to continue fighting so hard to protect it.

First Published: April 11, 2013

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