COPD: A Time of Thanksgiving


    By Jo-Von Tucker with Jane M. Martin, BA, LRT, CRT


    Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving - W.T.Purkiser

    In the United States we honor a tradition with our observance of Thanksgiving Day, a day of family and feasting, and of expressing our thanks for all we have.
    It seems to me that those of us with COPD may have our own special reasons to celebrate and give thanks. Our perspective, coming from that of having been diagnosed with a chronic, progressive, so-far-incurable disease, may be different and more specific than others in our world, because it comes from the unique mind set of someone who must struggle each day to breathe well, to survive to see tomorrow.

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    Let's count our blessings together. Yours may be different than mine, but I know we share many of the same reasons to give thanks. I picture a cornucopia not with what I don’t have, but what I do. This is what I see:

    • I’m grateful to have the strength it takes to get up and face each new day.
    • I give thanks for each time I’m able to avoid a lung infection.
    • I’m more appreciative than ever of the beauty that surrounds me – in nature, in my life, in my heart.
    • I’m thankful for the support and understanding of my family and friends.
    • I’m glad I have more good days than bad ones.
    • I’m pleased I can rely on my doctor and healthcare team in times of need.
    • I’m grateful for the friends I have made in our support group – people who truly understand how I feel.
    • I’m deliriously happy with the extra mobility my portable oxygen system provides, and with all  the innovations in supplemental oxygen delivery systems.
    • I’m delighted to know that research is taking place that may provide insight and help for all COPDers.
    • I’m happy I can occasionally dream that I am healthy again, freed in my dreams from the disability of COPD.

    Thanksgiving does not have to be marked on a calendar. It can be honored each day. It doesn't have to be accompanied by roast turkey and all the trimmings. It can be a quiet, solitary meal, or a simple acknowledgement of the importance of those individuals who affect our lives so deeply now. You know who they are, and so should they.

    As pulmonary patients, our perspectives may be different, but our passions are as strongly felt as anyone else's. And I suspect that the gratitude we feel for the continuance of the good things in our lives may be even more heartfelt because we are constantly at risk of losing them.

    Each of us occasionally gives in to brief bouts of grieving for the things we can no longer do or have. However, as the changes in our lifestyles have taken place, so, too, have new opportunities found their way to us. Those new doors that have been opened are the ones we must focus on now. They are the promise of good times to come, of cherished memories – and new beginnings.

    Those newly discovered opportunities are huge reasons, themselves, for our gratitude. Anticipation, excitement, joy, and a sense of accomplishment all are by-products of taking on new responsibilities and learning about new pleasures. All can bring renewal and rediscovery to each of us. I am so grateful to be aware of them in my life.

  • When I face each day as a precious gift, I feel grateful. The gift of a new day is the best one we can expect to receive. Think about it – with the dawn of each new day it's like getting God's okay to have another go at it. So, let’s take it, do our best, and just say, “Thank you.”

    Try this:
    Find something to be thankful for each day and write it down. Do this everyday for a week and at the end of the week look back on it.

    Jo-Von Tucker’s life as she knew it came to a screeching halt when, at age 52, she was told she had COPD, she would have to wear oxygen 24-hours a day for the rest of her life, and that she had two to five years to live. Determined to beat the odds, she set out to learn all she could about COPD and made it her mission to provide information and support to people with COPD and their families.

    Jane M. Martin is a licensed respiratory therapist, teacher and the founder and director of and author of Breathe Better, Live in Wellness and Live Your Life With COPD, scheduled for release Spring, 2011.

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Published On: November 18, 2010