Posts Tagged emphysema

Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek Diagnosed with COPD

February 10th, 2014 | Author: Fabiana Talbot

Leonard Nimoy, famously known for his role on Star Trek as Spock, announced last week that he has COPD.

“I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough. I have COPD. Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP,” Mr. Nimoy tweeted.  His announcement sparked a  conversation about COPD online with many asking, “but how do you have lung disease if you quit so long ago?”

It is so important to share with our loved ones that even if a smoker has quit, s/he can still develop COPD. Lung damage is irreversible and progressive (gets worse over time) and often goes undetected and undiagnosed until 50% of lung function has been lost.

12 million Americans have COPD and don’t know it.

That said, progression slows dramatically the earlier someone quits smoking. Tell your friends and family to quit today!

May Mr. Nimoy LLAP (live long and prosper) and continue to educate others to raise awareness about COPD.



Change Your Attitude

September 27th, 2013 | Author: Jim Nelson

This blog post was written by Jim Nelson, an individual living with COPD. Read more…

A Survivor and a Motivator

October 24th, 2012 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Joanne Iuliucci is a survivor—and a motivator. Read more…

Nick Jones: 2011 COPD Community Champion!

April 2nd, 2012 | Author: Janina Kowalski

In November 2011, the COPD Foundation asked Read more…

Participate in the Inaugural DRIVE4COPD Pro-Am Celebrity Racing Challenge!

March 1st, 2012 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Place a Bid For Your Chance to Take Part in This Exclusive, Once-in-a-Lifetime Event Read more…

Living Life to the Fullest

February 10th, 2012 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Chris Huckstepp says he first noticed deterioration in his lung function in 1994. Read more…

Learning to Breathe Again

October 14th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

In 1998, Ray Maybury was found to have Panniculitis Read more…

Standing Strong

July 1st, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

This blog post was written by Joanna Murray. Read more…

Stay Involved, Stay Active

March 25th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Bonnie Chakravorty says she first remembers being extremely short of breath in 1973 while living in Champagne, IL.

“At the time I was living in a rural area, and there was fertilizer put out and you could smell it everywhere. I thought I was allergic to it. But after I moved to the city but I continued to have episodes, particularly when I was driving in my car and exposed to fumes from cars,” Chakravorty says. “It got so bad one day I pulled into a hospital and went to the emergency room, thinking I was having a heart attack.”

Soon after, Chakravorty says she was diagnosed with asthma in 1979.

“They prescribed me inhalers, but in the meantime through all of this, I was teaching fitness classes. I decided I had to tone it down a bit myself,” she says. “I did notice I started feeling better, but I continued to sporadically have episodes.”

She was very active during this time, riding her bicycle almost a mile to where she taught her classes.


Currently living in Tennessee, Chakravorty works full time as a professor of Health Sciences  at Tennessee State University.  Among other courses she teaches a course on Pathology and frequently uses Alpha-1 as an example of a genetic condition.

She says at most she smoked half a pack or less per day during her teenage years.

“My first piece of advice for other individuals with COPD is to go to pulmonary rehab. That’s a good start, particularly if you’re not used to being active,” Chakravorty says. “It’s nice because they give you good advice and help you understand how to cope with some of the feelings of shortness of breath, and teach you how to do the right exercises.”

Although when diagnosed with asthma she began taking inhalers, she noticed that she was still getting progressively worse.

Chakravorty remembers being told in 1996 she had the lungs of an 80-year-old who smoked two packs a day. This is when she was tested for Alpha-1.

“Coincidentally, I’m also a tobacco researcher, and Alpha-1 was always a footnote. We’d talk about COPD, and how a small percentage of people had a genetic condition [of Alpha-1],” she says. “Well, the doctor, pulmonologist and nurse were all there, and when they got the results back, they told me I had Alpha-1.”

“At one level I didn’t believe them. What I thought was, ‘I have the test results, I have the symptoms, I must have it. Maybe people from other ethnic groups can also have Alpha-1,’” she says.

At this time, Chakravorty was living in Boston, and was forced to move because of the cold winter weather. She was having trouble getting to her office on foot.

Today, Chakravorty wants people to know that they are not alone with their disease, and wants to get rid of the stigma of COPD.

“I continue to take care of myself and I still have a pretty high quality of life, but not without adjustments. I can’t always, and do everything I want to do. For example, I can’t teach aerobics or dance, but I want people to know I am still vibrant and active in other ways,” she says.

“You have to take it one step at a time, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Try to do what you can. I try very hard to educate people about Alpha-1, and I will sometimes tell people more than what they want to hear,” she says. “But overall, it’s really up to you, on what you want to disclose. But whatever you decide stay involved and stay active.”

Chakravorty and a colleague are forming a COPD Coalition of Tennessee. If you are interested in learning more about their efforts, you can email her at:

Patrick Ewalt: Making a Positive Impact

March 18th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Patrick Ewalt says if he can influence even one person more positively to protect their lungs and health, he will have done his job.

“I want to be a positive reinforcement for my grandkids and maybe even their kids. You have to really take care of yourself – eat right and exercise,” Ewalt says. “I just want to positively influence somebody.”

Diagnosed with COPD five years ago, Ewalt says he was a three-pack-a-day smoker for around 30 years.

Patrick Ewalt

“I went to a pulmonary doctor up the street because I was real short of breath and couldn’t figure out why. So I made an appointment and he checked me out. He has me come back a week later, where I did the treadmill and when he got the results in he told me I had 50 percent lung capacity left, 65 percent if I used inhalers everyday,” Ewalt recalls. “He got this strange look on his face and said, ‘You have emphysema.’”

Ewalt says his doctor put him on different medications, which helped his lung function considerable.

“The scary part is when you quit breathing, though. For some reason, I guess, my diaphragm and lungs just stopped,” Ewalt says. “I have a thing about breathing. I’m paranoid about not being able to. I am really easygoing, but if someone lights up a cigarette near me, I get really angry really fast.”

Being told he only had 50 percent lung capacity left was daunting, so Ewalt took it upon himself to begin educating himself.

“I thought, ‘What is COPD?’ and I found out basically that I had prematurely aged my lungs. And I thought, ‘Good, now I have the lungs of an 80-year old,” Ewalt says. “I exercise on a regular basis, and I do a lot of walking on our three acres, but it can be a struggle, you have to keep pushing yourself.”

“If you sit on a sofa and watch TV all day, your body loses tone. But if you remain active or active as you possible can – use a stationary bicycle, leg lifts, jumping jacks or just walking – that’s going to help you. So I remain active, even if I’m short of breath,” he says.

Ewalt compares his COPD to “breathing through a straw all the time.”

“Back when I started smoking in the 70s, they didn’t say anything on the package. People didn’t talk about lung cancer when I was growing up and I didn’t know anybody who had it,” he says.

Educating the younger generation to quit smoking is what Ewalt says is the most important.

“I don’t want anybody to have to go through this. Young people need to listen to someone going through it – see them, know them – they need to realize that life is too precious,” he says. “I have three grandkids with another on the way this month, and I’d like to be around to attend their weddings, and maybe see great-grandkids. It motivates me to do everything I can for them – the love keeps me going.”

“I hope somebody reads this and gets inspired. I hope I can influence someone for the positive,” Ewalt says.