Currently, I lead the field medical team for GSK US Respiratory—nearly 50 employees responsible for answering medical-related questions that health care professionals have regarding GSK respiratory medicines.
But, my motivation doesn’t stop with my work. My mother, Ruth, is a 78-year-old woman living with COPD. She started smoking at the age of 12. Smoking at a young age was not uncommon in Kentucky, where she grew up. Growing up in the same area, I remember being in many smoke-filled rooms, smoke-filled homes and smoke-filled cars.
Almost twenty years ago, I noticed my mom started slowing down and having shortness of breath—having to take a break and sit on a bench when she went shopping. She was no longer making trips to the basement to do laundry or down the back steps to the garage freezer. Having a healthcare background, I saw these changes to her lifestyle, which helped lead to her diagnosis after visiting her doctor.
My mom was officially diagnosed with COPD in 2000. It was difficult for her and the entire family, and at times, she has struggled. In 2005, she had a severe exacerbation and nearly died, ending up on a ventilator.
The whole family has united around my mom. I partner with my sister who lives nearby to make sure she has the care and services she needs. I talk to my mom about her healthcare, about her doctor’s appointments, pre-and post-visit concerns, and about COPD and medications, answering her questions. I am proud of mom’s commitment to stop smoking and to focus on her health.