New group in Lufkin aims to enhance lives of East Texans living with COPD

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - 35 million Americans are living with chronic lung diseases, and of those people, only half of them are aware they even have an illness. A new group in Angelina County plans to shrink those statistics and help those living with COPD to find better ways to cope.

"I want to see grandparents attend high school graduations and weddings for their grandchildren. That was not something that I had because my grandmother passed away from COPD complications," said Account Executive, Rhonda Foster, of American Home Patient Inc.

Foster is one of the facilitators bringing the "Better Breathers" group to Angelina County. This support group is designed to give patients and the community more insight about living with chronic lung diseases.

"We'll have different topics each month that are on different issues," said Sharon Ford, Director of Marketing for the Angelina Rehab Center.

Pulmonologist Mohammad Siddiqui says COPD includes a range of diseases, such as emphysema, lung cancer, asthma, and others.

"We all know that these diseases don't have a cure like other diseases, diabetes, you know. You just have to live with them. But, there's very good adequate control that can be achieved," said Siddiqui.

Siddiqui says statistics show this disease is the third largest cause of death in the U.S. Many times, he says, smoking plays a factor in the development of COPD, so it's best to kick the habit.

"Smoking cessation, even though it's still widespread, is one of the main ways of preventing this disease," said Siddiqui.

"Better Breathers" is sponsored through the American Lung Association. Through group instruction, vendors, and community support, group advocates hope to improve the lives of those battling lung diseases.

"There's a huge smoking population in this area. And, I think knowledge and education are what help people to make better decisions about the care that they're going to give themselves and receive," said Foster.

The "Better Breathers" group will hold their first meeting on August 2 at 3:30 p.m. inside of the Angelina Rehab Center. After that, the group will continue to meet the first Thursday of every month. Admission is always free.

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