Shame and Blame | COPD Foundation

Posted on December 16, 2015   |   

The dreaded question for individuals living with COPD is, “Did you smoke?” So much is insinuated in three simple words, and so many in our community have to withstand the stigma associated with the disease. All too often, individuals living with COPD are afraid to reach out for help or seek treatment – let alone raise awareness – because they believe in the end they will be shamed and blamed for smoking.

While smoking is a primary cause of COPD, 25% of COPD patients have never smoked. Environmental, occupational, and genetic factors are also causes of respiratory disease. If you did or do smoke, however, you should know you are not alone. What is important now is not to look at the past with regret and shame, but to the future with strength and hope. No one has the right to take that away from you.

This reminds me of a piece of news from 2014. Online news site, Mail Online, reported that late actress Shirley Temple Black was, “…a secret smoker who died from lung disease.” After her passing, her family did not disclose COPD as the cause of death, perhaps out of fear that she might be stigmatized for smoking.

This is just one example of an individual who had to live in silence about a disease that ails 30 million Americans and is third leading cause of death in the U.S. We at the COPD Foundation hope everyone in our community will speak out and educate their friends and families about life with COPD. We believe the “shame and blame” culture will decline over time with greater awareness and education about the disease.

We are proud of all of our community members who have the courage to raise awareness despite the judgements of others. If you feel stigmatized due to COPD, just reach out to our COPD360social online community for support.

Have you been “shamed and blamed”? How did you deal with it? Please share in the comments section.


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