Faces of COPD: Stephanie Lebsack says, 'I'm fearless...and will stand up to COPD.'

Posted on November 23, 2017   |   

As a 34 year old career woman and mother of two children under the age of 5, life is non-stop. My husband is a middle school teacher and a football and track coach, and I am a full-time college instructor. A few years ago, I noticed that I constantly felt like a book was sitting on my chest, but pressed on, ignored it and attributed it to East Texas pine tree allergies. I didn't even know there was a chronic issue until I went in for a CT scan because of a kidney infection. I'm thankful I did, because the radiologist noticed changes in my lungs over the last year.

Stephanie Lebsack tackles COPD

The radiologist compared my CT scan to a scan the year previous, and labeled it as "worsening emphysema, potentially COPD." Having never been a smoker, I knew that emphysema wasn't truly the problem. So, my primary care physician assistant referred me for pulmonary testing (which was quite a brutal test by the way) and I was referred to a pulmonolgist. I decided to do some peer-reviewed article research, as I was a 26 week preemie with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. I found some interesting information, and have now found that my doctor believes my condition is likely a result of my prematurity.

Stephanie Lebsack tackles COPD I was diagnosed with COPD officially in September of this year; aged 34 and never having been a smoker. My pulmonologist has been excellent and despite that my life now involves multiple inhalers and nebulizers, I am feeling so much better, and my O2 SATs are in the 96-97 range instead of the 83-93 range. I'm so thankful for medical management options.

At my most recent pulmonologist appointment, I was told that my FEV reading is the lowest number it can be to be still Stage 1, one number shy of Stage 2, so I'm riding the fence. He said that we will have to do further pulmonary testing yearly to see at what rate that the COPD is progressing. I am very optimistic, and starting to research cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs and fitness options. I joined the COPD Foundation community chat forums and have received so much support from not only members of the foundation, but from family and close friends.

I'm fearless, beautifully and wonderfully made, and will stand up to COPD.

In recognition of COPD Awareness Month, the COPD Foundation is featuring a new "Faces of COPD" profile every day in November. The "A New Day, A New Face of COPD" blog series will highlight the stories of those who have been touched by COPD in any capacity. Tell your story by e-mailing us at info@copdfoundation.org or commenting below.


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  • Please be sure that you get the FREE, simple blood test for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, the genetic form of emphysema. Congratulations on getting your emphysema caught early and being treated well by your medical team.

    Many of us are living full and active lives with COPD, Welcome to our supportive "family."
  • I love your enthusiasm. Keep that attitude and you will be just fine. Thank you for sharing your story.
  • God Bless You Stephanie, you have a wonderful family. Thank you for sharing!
  • What a beautiful family you have, Stephanie!! I'm glad that the radiologist saw the changes in your lungs, that your PCP referred you to a pulmonologist, and that you are now on meds that are helping. You've got a great outlook, and that makes such a difference :-) Thanks for sharing your story.
  • So happy that you're primary and you were proactive and that your emphysema has been caught early. Your family is lovely.