The vision that the COPD community could come together as one voice and eradicate COPD was always a hope and for many a dream. For one very special lady, that dream became her goal. The COPD Foundation is sad to report that Edna Shattuck passed away on November 27, 2017 in Washington D.C.
Edna was a Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston MA, and soon became a Registered Respiratory Therapist while at Children’s Hospital in Boston early in her career. She later became Chief Respiratory Therapist at Boston University Medical. Relocating to San Francisco, she managed the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at Mt. Zion Hospital and later held positions as Chief Respiratory Therapist at St. Mary’s Hospital and the Ralph K. Davis Medical Center where she helped to found their pulmonary rehabilitation program. In the 1980s, Edna began a new career in environmental health and safety by marketing software programs to the medical directors of major corporations, including a successful smoking cessation program to federal, state and local governments, unions and healthcare systems.
As an asthmatic child whose mother smoked, Edna believed she was destined to be involved in respiratory care. Prior to her own diagnosis of COPD in 2007, Edna noticed problems with her own breathing while walking up stairs and in many of her daily activities. Once diagnosed, she realized she would have to undergo the treatment she had extended to so many during her career in respiratory health. No longer able to continue with her rigorous professional schedule, Edna retired in 2012.
According to Bill Clark of the COPD Foundation “I first came to know Edna around 12 years ago when she agreed to participate in our ‘Tell Your COPD Story’ and ‘Faces of COPD’ program where she was excited to share her story with others. I remember when we had a long talk the first day we met in person, Edna expressed her desire to use the lessons she learned as a professional, and now a patient, to educate and improve the quality of life for others like herself. It was the first of many talks we would have through the years. Edna, while small in stature, was lovely, gracious, kind, well spoken and unforgettably direct; she knew what was needed and was unwavering in her urgency to seek solutions. I admired and loved her from that moment we met; she would never play the part of a victim, but she would always be a part of the cure…and that is the way I will always remember her.”
As the years passed, Edna assumed larger and increasingly vital roles within the Foundation, including raising awareness and educating others as a patient advocate. In 2014, she was elected to the governing board of the COPD Patient Powered Research Network. Most recently, Edna was appointed as Chair of the Research Review Committee and as well as the COPD Foundation’s Board of Directors. Edna followed her passion for driving patient centered research by serving as a co-investigator in a COPD clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University and participating in numerous events for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
Not ever willing to declare defeat, Edna continued to work even harder and with greater urgency despite increasing physical fragility. According to Jamie Sullivan of the COPD Foundation “She was a friendly voice and empathetic ear when I encountered challenges. Edna always went above and beyond such as joining a meeting, making a phone call, traveling to tell the COPD story or waking up at 4 am to participate in a 5am satellite media tour to raise awareness for COPD.
When interviewed for an article in NEWS-line for Nurses Edna was asked what she likes most about her life now, she responded, “I truly enjoy being an educator. Whether addressing an audience (of one or 100), seeing heads nod and having questions asked, sharing my story, or writing an article, I know that someone has learned something new¬—something that could have a positive impact on their health, or the health of a friend or family member.” During another interview, Edna expressed that she would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in the lives of others. A grateful community will remember Edna and will forever be grateful for all her contributions to our community. We are blessed for having had the honor of knowing her and loving her.
Edna's family would like donations to be made to the COPD Foundation in her memory to help us fight this terrible disease.