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The Bruce Jenner Interview (Page 2 of 3)

An Interview with Bruce Jenner


BJ: Coughing, chronic coughing, coughing up a lot of mucous, shortness of breath when you do normal daily activities where a few years ago, you would not even notice your breathing.  Now all of a sudden, you notice that you are breathing hard.  You walk up the stairs and you are having a hard time getting your breath.   
Obviously, you are at risk if you smoke or have been smoking for a long period of time, or maybe have the disease in your family. It also depends on what type of working conditions you have, how good the air quality has been throughout your life, things like that.  You just have to be aware, because most people do not realize they have it until the latter stages and then it is harder to manage. 

GB: What kind of reaction have you had from people on the road?

BJ: I had people with oxygen masks come up and stand in line saying thank you for building up the awareness for this.  What I was also trying to do is encourage young people who are really not at risk to listen to their parents  and if they are coughing away, to put the test in front of them.  See how they score and, depending on how they score, maybe go see a specialist and get checked out.  So, even young people who are not at risk as much can really do something about this, too. 

GB: It seems like you got a lot of appreciation for what you have been doing.

BJ: Yes. The response has been just phenomenally good.   You know, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.  One person every four minutes dies of COPD.  It is the only disease that is on the rise because, for example, we can do things for treating breast cancer and we have gotten better at managing diabetes.  Yet, too many people find out they have emphysema so late in the process and they have lost so much function, there is not much we can do about it.  So COPD is on the rise.

GB: So that has to be hard for you.  I mean, being a world class Olympian, to see people around you who you love and who cannot breathe.

BJ: It is the worst thing in the world. You cannot even imagine.  When you watch them, it is almost like they are drowning.  They just cannot get the air in. 

GB: I was wondering if you and Kris have had conversations with your adult children about your advanced directive wishes.


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