LIHUE — Easy breathing is what Lihue Pulmonologist Tad Jackson is all about.
He’s been practicing medicine on Kauai for 28 years, with his entire career focused on working with people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Now, he’s thrown helping hands into a new documentary called “Clearing the Air: Opening Up about COPD” in an effort to spread awareness and compassion toward people living with the condition.
“Participating was a natural extension of my goal as a healthcare provider, to empower and motivate my patients to be proactive in their own health,” Jackson said.
Emmy-nominated Abbey LeVine directed the film, which launched in September and “aims to humanize the condition by chronicling the intimate moments in the lives of people living with COPD,” according to a press release on the documentary.
The overall goal is to reduce the stigma associated with COPD and shed light on how some patients cope on a daily basis.
“COPD is often associated with cigarette smoking, so it doesn’t always evoke the same compassion or interest as other diseases,” Jackson said. “Knowing the importance of changing this perception, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this project.”
The lives of three people are illuminated through the documentary, including Kauai’s Bob Moss.
Moss is a retired industrial worker and a U.S. veteran who was diagnosed with COPD when he became one of Jackson’s patients in 2011. He has a short history with smoking, and doctors pointed to years of exposure to fumes and pollution as the cause of his COPD.
The documentary chronicles his days, and shows the steps Moss and Jackson are taking together to improve his quality of life.
“Since working with Bob to identify the right treatment plan for him, he has been able to live better with his COPD,” Jackson said. “His journey has been extremely rewarding to witness.”
COPD is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to Jackson, and is a major cause of hospitalizations on Kauai.
“In my practice, COPD makes up about 40 percent of the patients we see,” he said. “The disease has a very significant impact on the patients (and) their families.”
The impacts to loved ones and patients, as well as the stigma around COPD drove LeVine to direct the documentary, especially since her mother was diagnosed with the condition.
“I know all too well the impact and frustrations of living with COPD after witnessing my mother’s struggle,” LeVine said.
She continued: “My goal in the film was to bring empathy to a narrative that recognizes the possibilities, while still acknowledging the realities people living with COPD face every day.”
To watch the film, and for more info: visit ClearTheAirCOPD.com.