OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hills and valleys. Most people figure out, sooner or later, that a walk through life is full of them, but Helen Harmon is still walking with purpose through her neighborhood all the time, up hill or down, refusing to give up.

“I’m one of those people who takes it slower,” she says. “I have to. But I get through it.”

Like a lot of people she knew growing up, including her own parents, Harmon took up smoking. It wasn’t until after she quit 25 years ago that she noticed a shortness of breath, later diagnosed as COPD.

She recalls, “thinking this doesn’t seem right. I’m working out every day. How is it possible that I’m out of breath?”

She’d watched her mother succumb to lung cancer after a 13 month battle. Then, 6 years ago, she watched, helpless again, as the same cancer took her husband within 3 weeks of his diagnosis.

“We were playing golf a week before he went into the hospital,” she tells us.

Through their loss Harmon found a purpose for herself.

“I’ll tell my story any time anyone asks,” she says. “It’s just so important for others to know what it can do to you.”

On Wednesday morning, she showed up as a volunteer at the local American Lung Association office.

Staff and other volunteers were busy putting together hundreds of packets for participants in a signature event for Oklahoma called the ‘Fight for Air Climb’, a group stair ascent that organizers like Terri Bailey say is great for raising both money and awareness.

Lunch cancer and other ailments, she states, “Is the second leading killer in the United States and in Oklahoma.”

“We have a saying at the Lung Association,” she continues. “If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”

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No one has to tell Helen how much it matters to simply breath easy at any time.

She takes medication every day, inhalers too, to fight back her own lung issues.

Climbing stairs for others, putting one foot in front of the other, is both a personal battle and her mission.

The Fight for Air Climb 2023 takes place Saturday, March 25th at the Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

For more information go to their website at action.lung.org or visit the American Lung Association site at lung.org.

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