When I was in my early 20s, I realised my dad was struggling and couldn’t do the things he used to. He just couldn’t catch his breath. He was a foreman, but even that became difficult and gradually he had to stop working.
Eventually, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He was only 50 and from then on, his breathlessness got worse, he was in and out of hospital and eventually needed oxygen to breathe. Then one day he died suddenly of a heart attack aged 55.
This was a total shock to me and my family because he was so young and because he died of heart failure.
Research saves lives
37 years later and now I’m participating in a COPD clinical trial, Preventing Adverse Cardiac Events (PACE), to test whether beta-blockers can reduce the chances of a stroke or heart attack for people who have COPD like me.
Ironically, I now have COPD. I was diagnosed just five years ago at the age of 59 after suffering from bronchitis for most of my life.
Not only has it been challenging adapting to being breathless every day but it’s pretty scary knowing that I have a greater risk of heart disease because of COPD.
But at least I know this, and there’s been progress because of research. Research gives me hope. After all, it’s only through research that we know today that there is a connection between COPD and heart failure.
My hope is that the results from clinical trials like this will be the magic bullet that will fix everything. And if it doesn’t, then that’s OK because researchers learn from research. There’s constant progress that will potentially save lives for future generations.
I find this time of year particularly difficult without dad. Perhaps if more funding was invested into lung disease research he would still be here today. A breakthrough treatment may have been found sooner and could have extended his life.
I have two beautiful twins now aged 36-years-old, born through IVF (another research game changer). They were born 18 months after my dad passed away, and
my biggest wish is that they could have met him.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Here’s wishing you and your family a healthy, happy and well-rested festive season.