Waiting to Exhale: Watching Asthma Take My Son’s Breath Away

By Flora Posteraro

My son was born ready to party!  This chubby baby didn’t want to go to sleep, fearing he would miss something.  Sean was happy and full of life until the day he couldn’t breathe.  What was happening??  He said, “Mommy, I can’t breathe.”  I panicked as my 3-year-old gasped for air.  The doctor said, “Sean has asthma.”  He would need an inhaler, even a nebulizer for his asthma attacks.  Sounded simple enough.  Except it wasn’t. 

There were times when Sean looked lifeless and I would sprint home like an Olympic runner to get his nebulizer because the inhaler wasn’t helping.  Then the terrifying final straw.  I was anchoring a TV newscast and during a commercial break, a co-worker said, “Flora, the school nurse called.  Sean is having a severe asthma attack.  He has to get to the hospital.”  At that moment, I couldn’t breathe.  I rushed out the door and drove as fast as I could to get Sean medical care.

My son’s story is a testament to the value of our lungs. When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.  Lungs are the essence of life.  You can live without a kidney.  You can live without a spleen.  But the lungs?  You need at least “one” healthy one to survive. My son is my passion and his childhood asthma sparked another passion, to help the American Lung Association raise awareness.

So, on March 21 I’m doing just that.

I’m honored to moderate a special forum for hospital administrators to guide them on “how to” create a lung cancer screening center at their hospitals. Lung Cancer may have nothing to do with asthma, but it IS a lung disease and one that affects many.  Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of men and women in the U.S. Isn’t it time we Love our Lungs and take care of them?

In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1.7 million people suffer from lung disease, including asthma.  Like lung cancer, asthma can also kill.  Patients usually learn to live with it and control it by avoiding triggers.  As for my son, tests showed Sean had allergies which triggered his asthma.  We got his allergies and his asthma under control.  In fact, it has been years since Sean had an asthma attack.  It was the moment I was waiting for- the moment I was waiting to exhale.  

To learn more about the American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Screening Forum in Harrisburg, go to www.Action.Lung/LungCancerScreeningForum.