I remember growing up in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and, as a girl, I looked up to my mother and her five sisters, especially my Aunt Barb and my Aunt Bette who lived in the same neighborhood as me. They were my universe.
They would always do everything together, which naturally meant the cousins were inseparable. Together, we celebrated holidays and birthdays, we walked to school every day and when it snowed, we’d fly down the hills on our sleds! And we’d end every snow day at either Aunt Barb or Aunt Bette’s house sitting by the warm fire and sipping hot chocolate.
"As I got older, so did they. And I’ve watched my Aunt Barb who was diagnosed with COPD at age 70 adjust the way she lives to make her daily routines a bit easier."
We’ve grown out of flying down the snowy streets in sleds, but we still get to enjoy life- because her diagnosis doesn’t define her. She has been on a medication that works for her, knows the importance of managing stress and has followed the advice of her doctor – and because of this she is able to live a full life. She’s an active church goer, enjoys playing cards with friends, and is the first to offer to watch my nine year old son, Iain, when I need a sitter… and she still loves a hot toddie.
In July, she celebrated her 87th birthday. We all sat beside her, including her sister – Bette -- and watched her blow out the candle on her birthday cake. That moment, that breath, was a reminder for me of what it really means to live EVERY single breath.
As the flicker on the candle went out and my Aunt Barb made her 87th birthday wish, I made a wish as well. I wished for her, and the millions of others like her who have been diagnosed with COPD, a lifetime of happiness -- a lifetime of doing what it is that brings them joy.
I’ve been at GSK for 20 years. Throughout those years I’ve been reminded of the work we do as a leader in the Respiratory space. Every day I walk the halls of our building and see banners, posters, product information – things that showcase the innovations we’ve made as a company to help people around the world breathe better. But the moment my Aunt Barb took a deep breath and blew out her birthday candle – that was the moment that made it all real. November is COPD Awareness Month, and it brings to mind all that we here at GSK do on behalf of COPD patients.
"Because of that, I choose to live every breath to the fullest!"