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Runners legs and feet

Crossing off my bucket list, one breath at a time

Breathing. For most people, it’s something that happens without thinking. But for millions around the world, it’s a daily struggle. Karen Scheffler, Manager, Sales Force Effectiveness, understands the struggle and shares her personal journey in the pursuit of better breathing.

Although I’ve spent the bulk of my career launching and selling products in the respiratory space, spending my days talking about the asthmatic patient that subconsciously limits their own symptoms, little did I know that every day I was talking about me. Looking back, I had all the telltale signs growing up: numerous respiratory tract infections, chronic cough, horrible allergies - but nobody was really tracking my story. Nobody was connecting the dots.

Until I was diagnosed with asthma at age 38.

Karen Scheffler at Rocky Run

A lifelong athlete, Karen wanted to remain active in spite of her asthma. She realized, though, that her activity level was not where she wanted it to be, so she set a long-term goal of running a 5K– an activity that had always been on her bucket list.

With her goal in mind, Karen dedicated herself to regular trainings, running whenever she had a spare moment. But no matter what she did, Karen couldn’t get her distance above two miles.

My chief complaint was always my breathing. It was never my knees, never my ankles. It was the fact that I couldn’t breathe. So I gave up without accomplishing my goal.

After giving up her 5K dream, Karen visited her primary care physician, who worked with her on a new disease management strategy. With her new treatment regimen, she added walking back into her daily routine.

Before she knew it, she was running again. And she ran all the way across the finish line of her first 5K.

Since then, Karen has completed various 5 and 10K races, and recently finished a half marathon – something she would have considered impossible, two years ago.

When I think about what running has done for me both mentally and physically, I don’t know what I did before I ran. I’m grateful that there are products out there that make patients, like me, feel better. I’m grateful that asthma no longer keeps me from accomplishing my goals.

Listen to Karen’s story as she shares what her diagnosis meant to her and how it impacted her dreams of wanting to run a 5K.

A closer look at asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs and causes a variety of symptoms that can worsen at any time, making breathing difficult. Some days patients may not have symptoms, but this doesn’t mean that asthma has gone away. One of the most important things you can do to manage your asthma is to work with your healthcare provider to identify and minimize your exposure to your asthma triggers. We’ve also developed an Asthma Self Care Kit to help you manage your asthma.

Our commitment to better breathing

At GSK, we believe it is our job to help people navigate the real-life challenges of living with asthma by pioneering innovative science, and by providing disease education and resources that can help people manage asthma in real life and Live Every Breath. And we are thankful for people like Karen, who participate in our mission to help people do more, feel better and live longer.