Susan R., aka “Blondie”, was diagnosed with COPD at the age of 53. She does marathons on her mountain bike as a hobby. We wanted to talk to her to see how one goes from being diagnosed with COPD and being prescribed oxygen therapy, to being an avid mountain bike marathoner. Susan's story is very inspirational to everyone who has been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
“I was never very athletic when I was younger. Turning 53 and being diagnosed with that sort of thing was a wake up call. My life changed after that.”
Susan is of average height, with dark brown hair with flecks of silver through it and green eyes. We commented that she looks younger than her age. “Thank you! Before I started noticing a change in my breathing, I started paying more attention to my health. Maybe deep down, I knew something was going on before the obvious symptoms started showing up. I started trying to eat healthier and exercising, but I was having a really hard time quitting smoking. I'd been doing it since I was 16.”
Learning that she has COPD pushed her even harder to quit smoking. “Now, it wasn't just my skin that I was worried about. My doctor told me that even after developing COPD, quitting smoking can help you get back some of your lung function. I was getting more and more into riding a mountain bike when I was diagnosed, and I didn't want to give up on it. I worked really hard to quit and it's still hard, but I haven't smoked in 2 years.”
Now, at the age of 55, Susan brings her Lifechoice ActivOx with her on her marathons around the United States. “I haven't gotten to Europe yet. It's not even about winning – it's about how far I can go. I'm competing with myself. I didn't think I would ever do anything like this in my wildest dreams, and now my friends and family and proud and still surprised at how far I've come. I have a great time on these marathons.”
We had to wonder how Susan does it, with keeping a battery charged on her marathons. “I need pulse dose on a setting of 2 on my ActivOx, and with the extra battery pack, I can go for 9 hours, non-stop. That gives me plenty of time for a 100 km marathon. It hasn't let me down, yet.”
We asked Susan how she managed to get into such great shape after being diagnosed with COPD. “I didn't want to go downhill health-wise and need even more oxygen therapy than I do now. I didn't do more than my doctor approved, either. He told me to build myself up slowly and use my oxygen concentrator while I exercised. He monitored me while I was training and I keep a close tab on my blood oxygen level while I train. I wouldn't do anything my doctor didn't approve.”