AHEAD of National COPD Awareness Day, a man has spoken about how the chronic disease has affected his life for the past two decades.

Phil Gladwell, 77, has lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for the last 20 years. 

On November 15, he hopes to raise awareness and encourage those living with COPD to make the best choices in staying well this winter.

COPD is a preventable and treatable condition which causes breathlessness and a chronic cough.

It is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with an estimated three million deaths each year. 

In 2022 and 2023, over 21,000 people were diagnosed as living with COPD and 413 people died in the same year due to the condition in the north east Essex and Suffolk areas.

Gazette: Awareness - Phil Gladwell, who has suffered from COPD for 22 yearsAwareness - Phil Gladwell, who has suffered from COPD for 22 years (Image: NHS)

Phil smoked for 47 years of his life and inhaled large volumes of grain dust as a teenager due to his agricultural line of work.

Phil says:  “With exposure to tobacco smoke and other toxic particles being one of the main risk factors for COPD, it was perhaps inevitable that I would eventually end up living with the condition.

“In 2004 I was diagnosed with COPD and have endured many illnesses since then including pneumonia, pseudomonas, lung cancer and tuberculosis. 

Phil speaks on what it was like after being diagnosed with COPD.

“It took me a little while to fully recognise and adapt to the fact that I was living with COPD, but since doing so I was determined to do all that I could to live a happy and active life. I finally quit smoking in 2007.

Phil also got the pneumococcal vaccination the same year, and it's available to all people living with COPD.

Gazette: Cyclist - Phil Gladwell and his bikeCyclist - Phil Gladwell and his bike (Image: NHS)

He said: "Prior to vaccination I had pneumonia more than once and can testify to how an unpleasant experience it was. I never want that experience again. Since the vaccination I have not contracted pneumonia.

“Ahead of the winter months I have also taken up the offer of the flu and COVID vaccinations and would encourage everyone with COPD to do the same. 

“I want to do all I can to protect my health so that I can continue to do all the things I enjoy doing, such as cycling, which keeps me active.

"Over the last two years I have travelled over 3000 miles on my electric bicycle and I am determined to keep on going for many thousands of miles more.

“To anyone with COPD I say get all your vaccinations.

“I love my life and want to enjoy many more happy years.”

Visit www.sneewellbeing.org.uk for a useful factsheet on living with COPD