Today marks another milestone at COPD-International as we turned 12. What a difference since our website first went online at 1:07am on June 26, 2002.
Back in 2002, the “Shame and Blame” stigma for COPD was running rampant, with patients blaming themselves, families and friends blaming them, and even some in the medical profession contributing to the self inflicted label. Outside of some in the medical profession and those of us with this disease, few even knew the definition of COPD. With few exceptions, the medical professions and governing agencies were almost ignoring the condition, in spite of its ranking back then as the 4th leading cause of death.
Surprisingly little had actually been learned over the years. Studies and clinical trials had been very limited. There were a few organizations offering a “sliver” of support exclusively for the COPD patient, mostly through email lists, message boards and chat rooms. Prior to 2002, there was no organization providing total support as well as a resource for understandable, accurate and consistent information.
COPD International opened its doors focused exclusively on COPD and offered complete support at all levels including: chat rooms, email lists, newsletters, message boards, specialized support areas like exercise and quit smoking, etc. – plus an extensive library.
As we look at today – though much slower than we would like, many major steps have been taken in many parts of the world. COPD awareness is no longer a dream. Little did I foresee that when I sent a simple message, (“Effective 1:07am EDT(6/26)Our website is Open for visitors ….”), to the other founders (Susie Bowers, Deb Hannigan, Billie Mahaffey, Ray Price, Cindy Schian, and Dorothy Williams) that today, you would be visiting us at COPD-International on PCs, laptops, smartphones, Kindles and tablets from over 150 countries. In addition, we have many professionals who use us as a resource for information, as well as referring others to us.
As we go forward into our 13th year, it is our “Birthday wish” that every COPD patient who can will step up to the plate and pitch in. No matter what stage our COPD is at, we can change the face of COPD in one of many ways. Volunteering, donations, registering in a research registry, speaking to groups of all sizes are just a few ways you can do your part.
Change holds all the promise for the future – ours as well as the future of those who come behind us.