A Breath of Fresh Air - Connie Cannon
Physicians: Jay Shah, MD; Furqan Siddiqi, MD
Connie Cannon picked up her first cigarette when she was 17 years old. But it wasn’t until many years later that she learned about the negative side effects caused by smoking.
“It was the cool thing to do when I was younger,” she said. “No one ever talked about how smoking could give you cancer or lead to other medical conditions.”
At age 58, Connie’s granddaughter shared that she’d like to have her grandmother around for a long time. It was that simple sentiment that caused Connie to take a second look at her habit. Shortly thereafter she quit smoking ‘cold turkey’ and hasn’t looked back in nearly seven years.
However, in the years to come, the lasting effects of cigarettes began to take a toll on her body. When Connie began to experience painful coughing episodes more frequently, her primary care doctor, Jay Shah, MD, referred her to pulmonologist, Furqan Siddiqi, MD.
“The first time I met Dr. Siddiqi I knew I would enjoy being a patient of his,” she said. “He was so caring and really took the time to listen to me.”
During her initial consultation, Connie learned that she suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which happens when the airways in the lungs are blocked making it hard to breathe. People with COPD may have trouble with daily activities or taking care of themselves because of shortness of breath.
For Connie, she describes her condition as one of the scariest things you can go through.
“You can breathe out but you can’t take a deep breath in – it gets worse and worse and you’re eventually gasping for air,” she said.
Although there is no cure for COPD, Dr. Siddiqi prescribed Connie medication to help manage her symptoms. Since then her ‘episodes’ have significantly decreased and she feels stronger and better able to complete daily tasks. Connie continues to follow up with Dr. Siddiqi every six months and also attends pulmonary rehabilitation two times per week where she performs various exercises to improve her lung function.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Siddiqi I wouldn’t be alive today,” said Connie. “He has given me a will to live and I love him for that. He is a great doctor.”
With only 13 percent lung function, Dr. Siddiqi also informed Connie that she was a candidate for a lung transplant and helped her complete the necessary paperwork to get on the waiting list.
“Dr. Siddiqi let me know that I was capable and strong; and even though I only have part of my lungs left he keeps me going,” said Connie. “You never know when they’ll find a match for you. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, or next year. But Dr. Siddiqi has given me a chance to live a few more years and I’m going to take them.”
Although Connie can’t turn back time, she encourages those who currently smoke to quit as soon as possible.
“I wish I had it to do over again but you can’t take it back,” said Connie. “We all have bad habits and make mistakes but I tell anyone who smokes for the sake of their family and friends to please quit.”