Meet Linda Owens, a brand new friend of mine. I’m doing a blog post about her because she inspires me. Why? Because I saw her at Gold’s Gym pulling around an oxygen tank that helped her to breathe while she exercised. I come from a family of people with lung issues… I’m familiar with oxygen tanks. People who need them 24 hours a day don’t go to the gym. So I wondered, what makes her different? Why is she here, still trying to gain muscle tone and cardio fitness? So we sat down and I asked her.
About 3 years ago, Linda was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF), a disease that causes scar tissue to build up in the lungs. The scar tissue leads to increasing difficulty to get oxygen into and out of the body. It’s a terminal diagnosis and there is no cure. But the doctor gave her a plan of action to prolong her life and she went for it.
When I asked Linda why she chose to come to the gym, she said, “You can say ‘poor me, I have a terminal disease’ or you can choose to get up and go. And I’m going! Life changes when you get a terminal disease. You look at life differently. You put things into perspective. You think about what has to be done – wills, emotions… And you live every day as if it was you last day. It could be. You don’t know. With PF you can be feeling great one day and flat on your back the next.”
I asked, “What makes it better?” She said, “To know the path you need to take and follow it. For me, that’s exercise. I do the treadmill, cable machines, dips, sit ups, stationary bicycle, and upper body.” She figured out what exercises she should be doing when her son, Shawn, sent her to a personal trainer. And she is very determined. “I’m going to fight.” Linda’s doctor tells her she is the poster child for Pulmonary Fibrosis.
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about you? Linda thought long and hard about it.. maybe as much as a minute of silence. Finally, she softly said, “I want people to know I care. I care about the person on the treadmill beside me. I want to help and fix things. That’s always been true of me but even more now, there’s a sense of urgency. People need a smile, a ‘good morning’. A hug.”
This soft-spoken, gentle spirited widow and mother of two grown sons is also strong in her faith in God. She attends Warrenton Bible Fellowship here in Warrenton, Virginia. “God made me better mentally and physically. I couldn’t have done it without Him. I hope if people are diagnosed [with PF], they will know it’s not a death sentence. This is not the end, you can have some good years if you have a plan.” Linda stresses over and over the importance of having a plan. “PF has helped me to be a planner and not a procrastinator. There is a verse – Jeremiah 29:13. It says that God has a plan and maybe this interview is part of it. Maybe someone will read this and have a change of heart about their illness.”
She has had several people tell her, “You inspire me.”
Well, Linda…. You inspire me too. Thank you.