Palatine mom Megan Kunz knows how scary it can be to rush a child to the hospital. Four years ago, Megan and her husband, John, made several worried trips to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital hoping to treat their 3-year-old son Jack as he gasped for air. It was terrifying to see him so sick, and it was still scary when doctors told them it was caused by asthma.
"The first year he was diagnosed, Jack was hospitalized at least five times. We had a lot to learn as parents with a child newly diagnosed with asthma," Megan said. "Jack would get really bad colds and struggle to breathe. He even turned blue a few times because he couldn't catch his breath. We just felt helpless."
Megan and John educated themselves as best they could with help from pediatricians and allergists. Now 7 years old, Jack has learned to recognize his triggers and warning signs of an asthma episode, and can tell someone if he needs his inhaler. There are still times when he needs to take breaks from playing to catch his breath, but his asthma is considerably better now than when he was a toddler. Still, Megan's family hasn't forgotten the helplessness they felt when he was first diagnosed.
"Jack definitely remembers his time in the hospital, and sometimes gets anxious when he remembers how it felt to not be able to breathe," Megan said. "It's not something we ever want to go through again."
To help ensure other families also don't have to experience it, Megan has made a commitment to improving lung health in Chicago. She and her stepmom, Cate, will climb for the second time in Respiratory Health Association's Hustle Up the Hancock event. Held at John Hancock Center on April 13, Hustle Up the Hancock raises funds and awareness for Respiratory Health Association's local lung disease research and programs.
Respiratory Health Association addresses all lung diseases, and has several educational programs that are close to Megan's heart. Asthma Management, Fight Asthma Now® and Asthma-Friendly Childcare are all free or low-cost programs that teach children and their caregivers how to better understand and manage asthma. Often, these classes are held in areas where asthma rates are higher than the national average.
"Since going through what I did with Jack's health, I've educated myself and become more aware of all of the people out there who also struggle with asthma," Megan said. "I think people sometimes forget that asthma can be a life-threatening disease and I Hustle for anyone who is affected by it. My stepmom and I choose to Hustle to raise money to help other families who feel helpless like we did."
Megan has committed to being a Lung Health Champion for Hustle and has a fundraising goal of $2,500. To help her reach her goal or to learn more about Respiratory Health Association, visit www.lungchicago.org/megankunz.