Brooke would be an inspiration even if she didn’t have asthma. At age 30, the mother of three decided to start running. What began as an urge to just get out of the house blossomed into a passion for running marathons to raise money for organizations that help underprivileged children. Brooke has run in races all over the globe. Her sneakers have pounded the earth past near Ayers Rock in Australia and the Great Wall of China, on Easter Island and, most recently, in Antarctica. But she is quick to acknowledge that she couldn’t have done it without the help of her allergist.
She had completed 10 marathons when one day she realized she wasn’t performing at her usual level. Her lungs ached and pushing herself harder only seemed to make her feel worse. “My training partner knew what it was. She told me I had asthma and to see this allergist who works with elite athletes,” Brooke says.
Results from a spirometry, or lung-function, test stunned her. She blew into the measurement device at 20 percent less than an average woman her age. Brooke worked with her allergist to devise a regimen that would let her keep doing what she loved most: running, “By working with, not against, my body,” she says, “I’ve extended my warmup and cool-down periods, and I use medication strategically to prevent or treat symptoms. I carry my bronchodilator inhaler with me at all times.”
Brooke knows she’s lucky her training partner recognized right away that she might have asthma. “I wonder how many other people out there are going about their lives, maybe even pushing themselves like I was, unaware that they have asthma or another respiratory condition,” she says.
“It can happen to anyone, even elite athletes. That’s why it’s so important to let people know to seek care if you have symptoms.”