April 3, 2014

Roy Martin


My name is Roy Martin; I am nearly 55 years old and live in Plumpton, an outer western suburb of Sydneywith my wife Debbie and our two teenage children Lauren (18) and Daniel (17).  Fortunately I am still in reasonably good health which enables me to work full time in a purchasing position.

I started smoking at boarding school when I was 11, because it was considered “the done thing”, totally different from today’s attitude.  As a person that has always been involved in sport, it wasn’t until I was in my early 40’s when I decided to play over 35’s rugby (Golden Oldies) that I realised I wasn’t in as good condition as I thought I was.  The 12 year gap in playing (from 30 to early 40’s) had shown me the effect smoking had had on my health.  Age was also an issue, but definitely not the main one.  As a male and “bullet proof”, it wasn’t until I was about 50 and during a game of softball, that the game had to be stopped because I couldn’t run two bases and I realised I may have a problem.

A short time later I finally woke up to myself and visited a specialist, and was diagnosed with COPD (emphysema).  When I was told I had COPD I was “pissed off”, but realised there was only one person to blame.

That was nearly four years ago, and within 6 weeks of that visit my wife and I gave up smoking.  As I didn’t know anything about COPD I decided to contact organisations in the hope of receiving help.  To be honest I found out that as I wasn’t sick enough there was little that anyone could do to assist.  As I was in still in reasonable health and it was me who created the problem, then it was up to me to help myself.

With my wife’s assistance we started running.  Initially I couldn’t run a few hundred metres without stopping, but in the past 3 years (with practice and effort) have competed in many “fun runs” with my wife. These include a half marathon (21kms) this year and 3 City to Surfs (14kms).

I am not saying that I find these events easy, as I know that will never be the case.  However I also realised that with the support of a good partner, it was easier than doing it alone.  Please don’t think I’m bragging, more so realising how fortunate I was to stop smoking when I did, before the damage I had done was more serious.  Every year, on World COPD Day I walk the corridors of the local hospital to remind myself of exactly how lucky I am and to understand that many others did not get a first chance, let alone a second one in several cases – through no fault of their own.

When I reflect on the past 4 years I can see many positives.  My wife and I have stopped smoking, and with her support, we have commenced running and continue to participate in sport.  As we regularly run around our neighbourhood we are often asked why we do it.  This gives me the opportunity to reply “to keep alive”, as I honestly believe the longer I run, the longer I live.