Originally Posted Online: Sept. 06, 2013, 4:00 am
Last Updated: Sept. 07, 2013, 11:39 pm

Better Breathers Club helps COPD copers

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

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Photo: John Greenwood
Brandy Kellenberger and Sarah Crose are facilitators with the Better Breathers Club, which is a local support group for adults with chronic lung disease. The group meets the last Tuesday of every month at 1:30 p.m. at Kelly's Medical, 1801 E. 54th St. Davenport. The purpose of the group is to give individuals with lung disease, as well as their family or caregivers, the skills and knowledge to help manager their condition and improve their quality of life. The group is free to those with lung disease and their families. For information, contact Brandy Kellenberger at 563-275-3224 or by email at brandyk@kellysmedical.com.

DAVENPORT -- Everyone else in the family had questions about her grandfather's respiratory problems, except him.

"My mom, my grandmother and my aunts asked me about it, but not him," Brandy Kellenberger said. "He passed away in February, but I remember the variety of questions people in my family had, and it showed me the importance of educational programs."

Mrs. Kellenberger and colleague Sarah Crose are co-leaders of the Better Breathers Club, a nonprofit support group for people with chronic lung disease, and their caregivers and families.

As far as they know, it's the only local club of its kind. It was formed in June and meets at 1:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of every month at Kelly's Medical, 1801 E. 54th St.

"But we've been working on it for much longer," Ms. Crose said.

The group is an affiliate of the American Lung Association. Mrs. Kellenberger was trained by the association as a "facilitator."

She said they began researching the organization in January, and eventually signed a three-year commitment.

They said they like using the Better Breathers Club name because it helps dispel ideas that the group is only for Kelly's Medical clients, and because it sounds better than just calling it a support group.

Kelly's Medical owner Bill Kellenberger, Mrs. Kellenberger's father-in-law, lets club members meet at the company's Davenport location, "and lets us use work time to plan and hold our meetings, she said. The company also pays for the light refreshments and snacks provided at meetings.

Mrs. Kellenberger is the store manager, and Ms. Crose is in sales and marketing.

The club is open to everyone, however, and free to people with lung disease and their families.

"Our members include those who have been newly diagnosed and others who have had it for a number of years," Mrs. Kellenberger said. "We've been averaging 10 to 12 people, and have had two to three new people at each of our meetings.

"We schedule guest speakers around monthly themes," she said. "In September, we will be talking about COPD medications, and will have Megan Airy, a Hy-Vee registered pharmacist and doctor of pharmacy."

Its August meeting featured Steve Garrington, an Honor Flight of the Quad-Cities representative who discussed safety procedures when traveling with oxygen, Mrs. Kellenberger said.

"We've made fliers and have handed them out and posted them wherever we can," Ms. Crose said.

"We also do surveys at the end of every meeting to get feedback from the members and suggestions of topics and speakers they may have," Mrs. Kellenberger said.

"We're also trying to get a group together to take a bus trip to a Healthy Lung Expo," she said.

The expo, sponsored by the Iowa American Lung Association, will be on Friday, Nov. 8, at the West Des Moines, Iowa, Sheraton. Find information about the expo by contacting 515-309-9507, expo@lungIA.org or 1-800-Lung-USA.

"We need 33 people to sign up by Friday, Oct. 18," Mrs. Kellenberger said. "A lot of enthusiasm has been shown so far about this possible road trip."

The club won't meet in December or January but will resume in February, she said.

"We're doing pretty well for a start-up," Ms. Crose said.

"But we'd love to see us triple the size," Mrs. Kellenberger said. "Our purpose is to give individuals with lung disease, as well as their family or caregivers, the skills and knowledge to help manage their condition and improve their quality of life."

For more information, call 563-275-3224 or email brandyk@kellysmedical.com.

FACTS AND FIGURES
*About 12 million people have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- COPD -- which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
*There are as many as 12 times more people who have COPD but don't know it.
*Just more than 17 million adults have asthma.
*More than 200,000 new cases of ling cancer are diagnosed each year.
*About 140,000 Americans have been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.
*More than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea.

Source: American Lung Association.