This excerpt was drawn from the Spring 2014 issue of the COPD Digest.
When Pam DeNardo was diagnosed with COPD in 1999, there were scant resources available. She had to do her own research—teaching herself about medications, inhalers, and pulmonary rehabilitation, a task she said was daunting and scary without guidance or any references.
“I was terrified. My doctor said that at best I had three to five years to live,” DeNardo says. “’Incurable’— that’s all I could think of. Except, I couldn’t die. I was a single mother of two, I had a mother in her 90s who needed me, and a small insurance business that had just turned the corner and was making money. I simply could not be sick, and I could not die.”
Today, DeNardo is one of 35 associates who work on the COPD Foundation’s C.O.P.D. Information Line. When it was created in 2007, they averaged 300 inbound calls every month. Today, the associates field anywhere between 5,000-6,000 contacts each month. DeNardo was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Information Line.
“Today, patients are still scared. You can hear that when they call the Info Line. The best thing is when I get a call from a newly diagnosed patient, because I can tell them I’ve had the diagnosis for 15 years, and you can hear the relief in their voices,” she says. “The Information Line, to me, is the culmination of everything I believed in.”
In 2007, she met with Bill Clark, director of outreach programs at the COPD Foundation, and John and Diane Walsh, and together, they recruited patients, set up the toll-free line for support and information, and the Information Line was born.
“The Foundation will continue to grow, and I believe it [a cure] will happen. And I hope to be there. I’m working hard to be there,” DeNardo says.
Read on about Pam’s journey on the COPD Digest website.