Posted on March 30, 2016 |
When Jennifer Cowgill’s mother passed away from COPD, she wanted to do something special in her mother’s honor. Because a lot of her favorite memories with her mother were in the kitchen, she decided to create a cookbook.
I was 8 months pregnant with her first and only granddaughter when my mother, Marla Loftis, passed away from COPD. We had the closest relationship and she meant the world to me. We did and talked about everything together, nothing was off limits. A lot of my favorite memories with my mom were watching her in the kitchen. We always had some of our best talks there.
The decision to make this cookbook was simply because Mom loved to cook and bake for the family. She was a natural at cooking, going off of memory and without actual recipes to follow.
The recipes she did have I put in this cookbook, and are a dedication to her and her love for cooking. I want to preserve our memories not only for myself, but for the granddaughter she never got to meet. This is a way to pay tribute to my mom that will last forever. My hope and devotion is that love is continually shared through this cookbook.
COPDF: Did you know what COPD was before your mother was diagnosed?
Jennifer: I was a very young child when my mother was diagnosed, so her having COPD was all I ever knew.
COPDF: How did it change your everyday life and your life as a family?
Jennifer: Nothing seemed to change in the beginning, because I’ve always known my mom with COPD. My mother never smoked a cigarette, so she couldn’t make quick changes such as to stop smoking. My mom didn’t really let it interfere with her life as I was growing up. She worked, took care of her family, and exercised regularly. Besides her chronic cough, you would never guess she had a disease and I guess that’s why my mom never took it too seriously.
COPDF: Did you make any changes to the way you live your life after the diagnosis?
Jennifer: Now that I’m an adult and saw how much my mom suffered in the end from not taking good care of herself, yes. I have learned to listen more to my body and take greater care for myself.
COPDF: What advice do you have for other family members coping with a COPD diagnosis?
Jennifer: Stress was the number one thing that my mom was always experienced and it made her disease so much worse. Reduce or eliminate any possible stresses. Keep active and eat lots of small meals throughout the day. My mom was very active until the COPD progressed. Then, she would only eat one big meal a day, this caused her lots of indigestion, which in turn made it harder to breathe.
COPD can be manageable with proper education and care. My mother lived with the disease for almost 35 years with little to no education. She seemed to be fine except for lung infections, chronic cough, breathlessness, etc… Her disease progressed extremely quickly the last 4 years of her life.
Please get educated and get different opinions from different doctors if you aren’t happy with the doctor you have. Learn all the stages of COPD and breathing techniques for times you are breathless. Just take good care of yourself and always search for new treatments!
COPDF: What inspired you to advocate for COPD awareness?
Jennifer: My focus and drive for bringing awareness to COPD is out of the love I have for my mom. She was everything to me and died way too young. I wish we would have researched more and asked more questions early on in the disease, instead of waiting so long to where nothing could be done. It was extremely hard to watch such a vibrant and active women turn into a person who could no longer care for herself. She ended up in a wheelchair and couldn’t even talk to me on the phone anymore because she was hurting and couldn’t breathe. I want her story to be heard in hopes of helping at least one person and their family.
COPDF: Describe your experience raising awareness.
Jennifer: It has been great. So many people either didn’t know what COPD was. Many thought they could only get it if they smoked. I have also found that a few of my friends have relatives that were just recently diagnosed with COPD, so it makes me very happy that I can help to show them where and how to get educated so they won’t suffer like my mom did. The COPD Foundation website is an amazing resource to start your personal education.
COPDF: What are your goals?
Jennifer: My goals are this- to honor my mom and to keep her memory alive. I would love to be able to write the COPD Foundation a big check from the book sales, so others can have better education and care than my mom did.
To check out Jennifer’s cookbook and to donate to the COPD Foundation, please visit www.donateforlungs.com.
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