Living with COPD: Peter's story

Can you imagine what it would feel like to take a breath when your lungs were already full of air? Try this. Take in a deep breath. Hold it in for three seconds and don’t exhale. Now try taking in another breath. And another one. It’s not easy is it? This is a feeling people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may live with every day of their lives.

Simple activities, like walking up the stairs or walking on a road with a small incline, can be an everyday struggle for people living with COPD. Most people don’t spend time thinking about their breathing, but for some people it consumes their daily life.

COPD is an umbrella term that describes respiratory conditions limiting airflow to the lungs. It currently affects approximately 329 million people worldwide. It is estimated that COPD affects approximately 529,000 Australians (2%).1

Peter, from Melbourne has been living with COPD for many years. Since his diagnosis he has had to make significant changes to his life. Below he gives his perspective on the impact that COPD has on him.

Peter’s story

Making changes to everyday life as his COPD progresses has become a new normal for Peter, who says on active days, he can feel breathless up to eight times a day. “I used to walk to the doctor, which is only half a kilometre up the road, but that half a kilometre is up-hill. On the way back it’s down-hill which isn’t bad, I can do that. But walking up there now, no way,” he says.

Peter does things differently these days and has to perform activities slower. “I still give cooking a go but by the time I’ve got the potatoes and pumpkin peeled, half an hour’s gone by and it should have only taken ten minutes because I’m not as quick and I slow down with everything I’m doing.

“But, if I’ve got to do something I’ll do it even if it takes me an extra five, ten, fifteen minutes to do it,” he says.

Peter recalls going to the supermarket to buy milk and butter recently and by the time he had left and returned, it had taken him 30 minutes to walk 500 metres. “I was completely out of breath and all I was carrying was two bottles of milk and two packs of butter and it took half an hour. I had to sit down every twenty steps.”

Peter recognises that giving up smoking is an important step in his disease management, but explains it’s hard; “It’s not that I don’t want to give up, it’s just that the mind’s saying one thing and the body’s saying another.” 

GSK’s commitment to respiratory disease

We have a long heritage in research and innovation around respiratory disease. Over the past 40 years. 

We remain committed to developing treatments that transform the lives of patients worldwide who experience breathing-related illnesses. This requires a deep understanding of respiratory diseases, a promise to furthering the science, and an awareness that every patient’s experience is different.  

GSK wishes to thank Peter for volunteering his story to help raise awareness of COPD and the affects it has on his life.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report. Australia’s Health 2014. p138