Next month marks the 2-year death anniversary of Leonard Nimoy (Spock in Star Wars)!
Some people may know his death was ultimately caused by COPD and Nimoy himself, despite having quit smoking 30 years before, he tweeted ‘not soon enough’. To his credit, in his final months before passing, he took precious time from his last days among us to issue a warning through traditional and social media. With smoking being the major cause of COPD, Nimoy wanted us to take more care in our younger years before the eventual realisation that we’re mortal, and that we need to take care of our health.
He took this often undiagnosed disease amongst many, to light, as much as he could.
The trouble with degenerative lung disease is that it’s impossible to know at what point enough damage has been done to the lungs that they will continue to degenerate, eventually resulting in a COPD diagnosis. It’s known as a ‘silent disease’.
In my personal experience, I hadn’t heard of COPD until 1.5 years after I’d been suffering the symptoms. I also only starting suffering at the age of 28 but had few issues before and led a fairly ‘normal’ life with mild-moderate asthma. And it really does creep up on you, regardless of whether it’s caused by smoking or not!
On Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, his daughter, Julie Nimoy and her husband committed their efforts to a very special project. A documentary dedicated to her father titled Remembering Leonard – His Life, Legacy and Battle with COPD was born.
See more about it here and watch the trailer. It is poignant and should be a catalyst for major change- ‘it’ll be the third leading cause of death worldwide’ pretty soon.
In the UK, surveys of the general population, cited by the British Lung Foundation, suggest that approximately 12.7 million people in the UK have a history of asthma, COPD or other respiratory illnesses. Estimates suggest 8 million have been diagnosed with COPD. And in the US, there’s believed to be as many as 30 million people suffering with 12 million undiagnosed.
With such substantial numbers and no cure as yet, it is important for society to become more involved and aware to potentially prevent the disease happening to others , improve quality of life, reduce health-care costs, improve support networks, influence COPD activities at a legislative level etc.
In the words of Nimoy, ‘LLAP- Live long and prosper!’ We all have the right to LLAP, so lets gather together, pay our tributes to him and spread the word.
In the US ,you can join www.copdfoundation.org and in the UK, you can join www.blf.org.uk . Beyond donating, you can become actively involved in helping in many ways. For other countries, there may be a local charity or institutions in which you can find, but if you’re struggling, let me know. I’d love to help out my fellow sufferers!