Lace Up, Don Orange to Support COPD Awareness in November

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by Mary Chapman |

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COPD Awareness Month | COPD News Today | illustration of ribbons for awareness

Sporting the color orange and “lacing up” for patients, supporters nationwide are participating in COPD Awareness Month, observed each November to call attention to the lung disorder that affects nearly 16 million U.S. residents, with millions more undiagnosed. World COPD Day is Nov. 17.

Awareness and education are crucial to increasing the recognition, diagnosis, understanding, and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease in which the airways become blocked, causing cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

The COPD Foundation is calling attention to its Lace-Up for Lungs awareness challenge, which opened on Sept. 25 — World Lung Day — and continues through the end of this year. The effort, which includes promotional videos in English and Spanish, underscores the need for better lung health and more exercise and activity, and for patients’ overall better quality of life. Lace-Up for Lungs is also this month’s theme.

“Your participation can help others learn about COPD and the ongoing need for research, education, support, and ultimately a cure for COPD, bronchiectasis, and nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease,” the organization states on the campaign’s webpage. “Alone we are one voice, but together, we are the COPD community and champions on a mission to raise awareness.”

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Participants can “lace up” and get moving on behalf of someone affected by COPD and challenge others to do the same. They’re asked to sport something orange — the official color for COPD Awareness — and either take a selfie or have someone record a video of them stating whom they’re supporting and whom they’re challenging to follow suit.

Participants are then asked to post the photo or video to social media, tagging #LaceUpforLungs and @COPDFoundation. The challenge needn’t be a solo affair; patients may include in their images or recordings members of their healthcare team, for example, such as their respiratory therapist.

In addition to appearing on video or in a photo, supporters may choose to donate to the COPD Foundation, established to improve the lives of lung disease patients through research, education, and advocacy. Contributions of at least $25 will net a pair of the organization’s special edition orange shoelaces.

Participants are encouraged to share their doings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the foundation’s COPD360social, an interactive online community that offers answers about the disease, notices about events, inspirational stories, educational materials, and other resources.

“This year more than ever, the world recognizes the importance of breathing and lung health, which are a few of the positive outcomes of this devastating pandemic,” Ruth Tal-Singer, PhD, president and chief scientific officer of the COPD Foundation, said in an emailed statement to COPD News Today.

“The COPD Foundation continues to stand together with our community to promote everyone’s right for better breathing, which is a key message and focus of our COPD awareness campaign, #LaceUpforLungs.”

The foundation is also providing a COPD Awareness Month Toolkit that includes downloadable images plus sample social media posts. What’s more, the organization is highlighting educational articles and resources, including an explanation of NTM lung disease, the importance of exercise, and an interview with an NTM patient. There are also frequently asked questions about COPD and a blog about quitting smoking.

And At 5 p.m. EDT on Nov. 4, supporters are invited to the foundation’s annual COPD Circle of Friends virtual celebration and donation match, which will be live in more than 150 countries to the COPD community and general public. The free event’s master of ceremonies will be Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of NBC’s “Today With Hoda and Jenna.” Attendees will hear from patients, caregivers, scientists, and clinicians, with awards and entertainment.

“Hear personal stories from the COPD community — those who have been personally affected — and experts working to find a cure for the most pervasive, chronic lung condition of our lifetime,” the organization states on the event’s webpage, where people can also register.

Elsewhere, the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is encouraging supporters to bring greater visibility to COPD by joining its Learn More Breathe Better program, which provides access to videos, fact sheets, articles, infographics, and social media resources.

The agency is also offering informational articles about COPD for patients and caregivers and reference publications for health and community professionals. In addition, resources for the COPD community and the media are available, as well as videos about the disease.

“Each November, the COPD community comes together to promote better understanding of COPD, a progressive lung disease that affects millions across the country,” the agency states on a webpage about the effort. “Increasing awareness about COPD and its symptoms is important because early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life.”

COPD Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness among the general public, as well as policymakers, public authorities, industry representatives, scientists, and health professionals.

World COPD Day, meanwhile, is organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with healthcare professionals and COPD patient groups globally. The goal of the 19-year-old event is to raise awareness, share knowledge, and discuss ways to lower the burden of COPD worldwide. Each year organizers in more than 50 countries hold events and offer activities. The theme this year is “Healthy Lungs — Never More Important.”

“This year’s aim is to highlight that the burden of COPD remains, in spite of the ongoing global COVID pandemic,” GOLD states on the event’s webpage.

“Keeping your lungs healthy can include avoiding cigarettes, air pollution or occupational exposures, as well as staying active either through regular physical activity or pulmonary rehab. In addition, receiving important vaccines, keeping medical appointments and taking medications correctly can help keep your lungs healthy!”

This year’s effort includes a newsletter, infographic, downloadable graphics, suggested fundraising, and other activities, such as holding a bake sale, setting up a display of COPD information, or establishing a telephone helpline for patients. Supporters are asked to share their activities on Twitter, Facebook, or through GOLD’s website.

In the U.K., the British Lung Foundation is offering a webinar on keeping well with COPD, plus tips for managing the disease and staying active. Patient narratives are also available for supporters.