Helping San Diegans Breathe Easier: Judy Holton's Community Benefits Story

Better Breathers Club

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) sufferer Judy Holton, 69, says the support and education she receives from Sharp Grossmont Hospital clinicians at the Better Breathers Club in La Mesa has helped her to live a healthier, longer and more satisfying life.

Holton, a smoker for more than 40 years, was diagnosed with COPD after a bout with pneumonia in 2004.

"I didn't seem to be getting any better from the pneumonia and my weight dropped to under 100 pounds," Holton said. "Even though several doctors told me I had COPD, I was in denial for four years, but I had to accept it when I couldn't make it across a room without having to stop and catch my breath."

Holton, who compares living with COPD to "plugging your nose and trying to breathe through a straw," quit smoking, but was especially frustrated because the disease continued to affect her time with her 4-year-old granddaughter.

"During one walk, I asked my granddaughter to slow down because Nana couldn't keep up with her," Holton said. "She found a stick, and told me to grab hold of it so she could pull me to where I needed to go."

Holton says that the Better Breathers Club has become her new "stick forward." Attendees — consisting of people dealing with various breathing issues and their families, friends, caregivers and other community members — gather regularly at the Dr. William C. Herrick Community Healthcare Library for free, educational lectures from Sharp-affiliated doctors and other Sharp clinicians on a variety of topics, including respiratory disease and treatment, fall prevention, mental health, nutrition, physical therapy, palliative care and end-of-life care.

"Being educated about your disease and your health is so important; it's the best thing you can do for yourself," Holton said. "The club is also a support group where we laugh, have a good time together, and are reminded that others are going through similar situations and there will be a new day."

For More Information
To learn more about the Better Breathers Club, visit the American Lung Association's Better Breathers Club*.

To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm or search for a San Diego physician specializing in pulmonary diseases.

To learn more about the positive impact Sharp physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers have on the San Diego community, visit Community Benefits Report. To learn more about Sharp's involvement in the community, visit Community Programs and Health Education. To read more stories like this one, visit Community Benefits Stories.

*Please note that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information presented on external websites, nor do these websites endorse the information found on