Leonard Nimoy, a prolific actor best known for playing Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise, died in February 2015 at the age of 83. Today, his daughter Julie Nimoy is using her father’s story to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
“From the time my dad was in his mid-fifties, it became apparent to me that he was having some breathing difficulties,” Julie shares.
COPD was the third-leading cause of death in 2015. Compared to adults without the condition, adults with COPD are more likely to be unable to work, need special equipment like portable oxygen tanks, suffer increased confusion or memory loss, and have activity limitations, such as difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
“Some of the symptoms that I first noticed included shortness of breath while walking, constantly clearing his throat and more allergy-like symptoms,” Julie continues. “When Dad got older, I noticed symptoms had not only increased — but it was becoming more difficult for him to continue his very active lifestyle.”
Where there’s smoke
Leonard was officially diagnosed in 2013, and attributed his diagnosis to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. Avoiding the inhalation of tobacco, as well as home or workplace air pollutants, may prevent COPD from developing.
“Individuals who are at risk — smokers or previous smokers; those who have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or excessive mucus production — should definitely seek medical advice as soon as possible,” Julie urges. Early detection can alter COPD’s course and progress.
Her message for patients currently living with the disease?
“The correct treatment — whether that be in the form of prescription medications, oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehab — can make a huge difference in managing COPD and maintaining a relatively good quality of life.”
Life and legacy
Now, two years after his death, Nimoy’s daughter and son-in-law, David Knight, are honoring his legacy with “Remembering Leonard,” a documentary that pays tribute to Nimoy’s life and career, while also spreading awareness about COPD and how not smoking improves the odds of prevention.
“My dad always encouraged me to be independent, even at a very young age,” Julie recalls. “He always stressed the importance of getting a good education, and to be passionate about whatever career I decided to choose for myself. He also emphasized how important it is to accept people from all walks of life and various backgrounds.”
Several days before his death, Leonard shared a message with his million-plus Twitter following: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.” Nimoy almost always ended his tweets with “LLAP,” shorthand for “live long and prosper,” a Vulcan aphorism that became both Spock’s and Nimoy’s own mantra.
For more information on “Remembering Leonard,” please visit rememberingleonardfilm.com
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