Patty Loveless, award-winning country music singer, speaks with EmpowHER about how COPD has affected her family and about her work with DRIVE4COPD, a public health initiative to raise awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It kills one person every four minutes.
To increase chronic obstructive pulmonary disease awareness, Grammy-Award winning country music star Patty Loveless joins me right now on EmpowHER. Hi Patty!
Hi Todd, how are you doing?
Oh absolutely. In 1996 my sister, well, for the past eight years prior to 1996 she had been slowly but surely deteriorating, her body, and just actually she didn’t even know that she was walking around with emphysema, which is a form of COPD.
And she didn’t know what she was suffering with but she was a wonderful singer. I was actually inspired by her to take singing as a career, and I remember her being so energetic.
But once COPD took over her body she just could not, I mean, she couldn’t do the activities that she used to do and it was so sad to see her this way.
So in 1996 she lost her battle with that deadly disease and sadly enough just now I think of her and now to be involved with this campaign, this drive to get the word out and make people aware of what this disease is and to kind of screen as many people as possible that might be at risk with it.
You know Patty, my work here at EmpowHER like your work with DRIVE4COPD.com is very similar. My work is inspired by the passing of my grandparents and my relationship with them and advocating for their health.
And it sounds like you still get an opportunity to give to your sister by creating awareness for COPD.
Absolutely, and I had another family member, which was my father. He worked in the coal mines. I was a coal miner’s daughter, of course, but he ended up losing his life to black lungs disease, which he developed from working in the coal mines. And you know there’s so much information about this that I did not know myself.
A lot of folks are questioning, what is COPD? What does it stand for? What’s this about? And it is, you know there’s two forms of it – there’s chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
We have a website that you can go to and, Todd, it’s called DRIVE4COPD.com, and you can go and find information about what the symptoms would be which some of them, just to give you an idea is like usually it affects a person 35 years of age and older.
Symptoms are shortness of breath and cough – a cough that won’t go away, which was in the case of my father and my sister.
And you can also go on this website and to see if you are at risk and maybe inform some of those that you care very much about and you have concerns that if they have some of these symptoms that we are talking about, that they could go and take the screener at DRIVE4COPD.com.
And it’s only five questions on that screener. I have taken the screener myself. It only takes a few minutes of your time and I think it’s well worth it, and possibly if the results that it shows to you, it’s right there as soon as you take the questions.
And you have the choice that you can take it to your doctor and say, “Look, here are the results of this screener I took.” And it’s also being supported by the Lung Association and COPD Foundation.
There’s a possibility of you being at risk and you can take this to your doctor and say, “Maybe I can get treatment for this and how do I approach treatment?”
I have had a lifelong lung condition. I have asthma and it’s been part of my…
I too. I have what they call seasonal asthma and I developed it over the years and I have traveled many different places, been in many areas where it’s very humid and you know, my understanding even mold or it’s like I said, it’s a seasonal allergy asthma.
It’s scary, isn’t it?
So I understand what you are talking about.
Sure. You know, I’d like people to know while Patty is with us that COPD has a gradual onset. Many patients aren’t diagnosed until they are hospitalized or they require emergency care and are treated for the disease.
And that early diagnosis of COPD is critical. So like Patty mentioned, go to DRIVE4COPD.com, look at your risks, evaluate them and make sure when you go to see your doctor you start advocating for yourself.
And Patty, I know that you are going to be on a 6,000 mile drive across the country and I see a photo here and I got to tell you – you look pretty good as a race car driver. I see you in that outfit.
Oh thank you, but not as good as Danica Patrick. I am glad that she is aboard this whole campaign and you know Danica and also Jim Belushi as well as Michael Strahan and Bruce Jenner – all of them know of someone in their life that has suffered from COPD and they are all in this race with me together to go across the country.
Of course the kick off of the campaign is going to be in Daytona February 13th at the track, the day before the Daytona 500.
And we are going to be getting in cars and go on around the track and I will be performing a song that I have written for the campaign, and it’s very easy to remember; it’s called “Drive.” And, of course, for the Drive4COPD 300 is what we call in the race that day.
So there’s going to be a bunch of pit stops for all of you out there around the country. There are going to be 14 cities around the country that will be involved.
She is Grammy award winning singer Patty Loveless. Patty, thank you so much for helping us improve health and change lives.
And thank you, as well, for helping us get the word out.