I just got off the phone with comedian Mary Walsh of This Hour Has 22 Minutes fame. I’m a fan (how could you not love Marg Princess Warrior?), so I was excited to speak to her about World COPD Day, an annual event to promote awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
To promote the day, which takes place this year on November 18, Walsh has teamed up with The Lung Association of Canada to speak out about COPD, a long-term lung disease that is usually caused by smoking. According to The Lung Association, one in seven Canadians is living with COPD and doesn’t even know it.
‘You can get so much help if you get diagnosed early with a simple test,’ says Walsh. ‘Unfortunately, [the diagnostic test] isn’t done often enough because awareness of the disease is not very high.’
Walsh is dedicated to spreading the word about COPD partly because lung disease runs in her family’her sister passed away from lung cancer and also suffered from COPD. While there is no cure for the disease, it can be treated and slowed down with medication and pulmonary rehabilitation.
‘If you are diagnosed early, your quality of life can be [better],’ says Walsh. ‘I have a cousin who is attached to an oxygen machine all the time and can’t walk up the three steps to her house. If she had been diagnosed earlier and had been on the correct medication, that may never have happened.’
Walsh now makes a point of asking her doctor for the COPD diagnostic test with every check-up. ‘At the same time I get a Pap smear, I ask for the [test],’ she says.
Though COPD is on the rise in Canada, especially among women, it can be prevented. Since most cases are caused by smoking, you best defense is to quit.