COPD: "Determine to be as well as you can for as long as you can."

Published May 22, 2024 • By Somya Pokharna

Carenity UK member Margaret's journey is a testament to strength and determination. After a hectic career that concluded in 1988 to care for her husband who has a disability, her life took an unexpected turn with the onset of COPD symptoms in 1997. Despite the challenges of shortness of breath and bouts of coughing blood, she faced her diagnosis head-on.

In this insightful interview, Margaret recounts her path to diagnosis, the hurdles of navigating treatments, and the impact of her additional health issues, including breast cancer and cardiac problems. She opens up about the daily struggles and the loss of independence brought on by COPD, yet she remains steadfast in her advice to never give up, hopes for a future filled with potential new treatments and dreams of adventure.

Read on to discover more about Margaret's remarkable journey!


Hello, Margaret! Thank you so much for your willingness to share your story with the Carenity community.

First of all, could you tell us more about yourself?

I retired in 1988. I had had a very busy hectic job, but my husband became disabled, and I had to look after him. My hobbies, when young, had been various crafts, gardening, and baking. I managed to do many of those while helping him. In the past, I had traveled extensively and lived abroad for a while. So, we managed to revisit some of those places.

When did you first start experiencing symptoms related to COPD? What were your initial symptoms, and how did they progress over time?

My COPD symptoms appeared in 1997, I was very short of breath and eventually started coughing spots of blood.

Can you describe your journey to being diagnosed with COPD? How long did it take, and what were the key challenges you faced during this period?

I was given various inhalers, many of which had side effects, the worst was salbutamol which brought on migraine. In 2001 while in Spain I saw a doctor who prescribed Serrapeptase. It was so helpful, I looked for it in England and eventually had to buy from the USA. It cleared much of the inflammation, which brought my lung function up to 64. A UK company then imported it for many years until the EU banned it last year. Why? The Chinese have used it for thousands of years! (Ironically, I can buy it for my dog.)

You mentioned an important incident involving an irregular pulse that was identified by a nurse. Can you elaborate on that experience and the immediate actions that followed?

During a pre-diabetic checkup, a very diligent nurse noticed that my pulse was not only high but irregular. An ECG shown to one of the GPs, and I was whisked into hospital. Now being treated for arterial fibrillation. Waiting for more tests.

How have other health issues, like your breast cancer, influenced your COPD or overall health?

While you are having radiotherapy, you have to hold your breath. Not possible, for the time required, when you have COPD. The radiology then has a greater chance of a shadow impacting your heart. I was informed of this but was told the risk was minimal.

What are the biggest challenges you face daily due to COPD? How do you manage these challenges?

Miss my long walks and my morning runs. I have back problems which hinder walking as well as the inability to tackle slopes because of the shortness of breath. The frustration is endless. Loss of independence is depressing.

How has the support—or lack thereof—from medical professionals and loved ones affected your health journey?

In the beginning, almost everyone though I was just unfit. Now they realize I have an illness. I have fought this for a lot of years and am now feeling rather worn down.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to experience similar symptoms or has been recently diagnosed with COPD?

DO NOT GIVE IN. Try every treatment. Do breathing exercises. Ask for remedial courses. Determine to be as well as you can for as long as you can.

How has living with COPD and experiencing these health challenges changed your perspective on life? What are your hopes for the future in terms of treatment and managing your condition?

There are new treatments all the time. At 82, I'm too old to partake in trials, but I did achieve improvement. Now I am saving up for a relaxing recliner, but I may just blow the money on a trip to Australia.

A big thank you to Margaret for this interview!

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Take care of yourself!

avatar Somya Pokharna

Author: Somya Pokharna, Health Writer

Somya is a content creator at Carenity, specialised in health writing. She has a Master’s degree in International Brand Management from NEOMA... >> Learn more


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