In the 1960s when Ric was a child, he lived in fear of his next terrifying asthma attack.
By the age of three, Ric had been in intensive care on three occasions. “Mum tells me a few times I stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated,” he says.
But thanks to research breakthroughs and new asthma treatments – Ric no longer lives in fear of an asthma attack.
Ric endured many severe and unpredictable asthma attacks. They were triggered by grass, pollen, dust, cold weather, a virus, or exercise.
But when Ric was young, he says, few people had even heard of asthma.
“I’d say to my teacher ‘I can’t breathe properly’ and they’d say, ‘Oh well, keep running, you’ll be right’,” he recalls. “I lost about a month of school each year recovering from my asthma attacks.”
Ric’s most terrifying asthma attack was on a Scout hike deep into the Warrumbungle’s National Park in north-west NSW, aged 12.
One night, Ric was left wheezing and struggling for air as his friends slept in their tent. He grasped for a steroid tablet; the only treatment he had been given in the 1970s. He stumbled towards a trickling stream to get water to swallow the pill.
“I thought I was going to die,” he says. “I imagined the shock of the boys finding me in the morning and Mum and Dad having to airlift me out. When I did wake the next morning, I didn’t tell anyone.”
Sadly, there is still low community awareness and understanding of the inconvenience, fear and limits asthma can impose.
It’s just fortunate that treatments have evolved a lot. By the time Ric started university and work, research had delivered life-changing asthma inhalers which quickly eased his symptoms.
Research had also uncovered that exercise could help. He began swimming and doing martial arts and his asthma improved greatly.
Ric’s asthma slowly improved into his 30s. He married Belinda and became a dad to Ruby, now 16, and Charlie, 12. But he faced new asthma anxieties when Ruby showed asthma symptoms and was hospitalised at six-months-old. “Seeing my tiny baby struggling to breathe scared me,” Ric says.
It’s thanks again to research breakthroughs like the invention of asthma preventers that Ruby has managed her asthma well and avoided further hospitalisations.
But what concerns Ric is that he’s lost several older friends to asthma that’s returned late in life and has him thinking could his own severe asthma attacks return?
Tragically, asthma leads to the death of about 400 Australians each year. It’s one of the reasons that when Ric and Belinda got married in 1999, they chose to donate monthly to Asthma Australia.
They love that their regular gifts play a direct role in supporting people to live free from the limits of asthma, and even help save lives.
“I have confidence that Asthma Australia is using my money carefully on research,” Ric says.
Then two years ago, Ric and Belinda also included a gift in their Wills to Asthma Australia. Their legacy will help future generations breathe so they can live freely.
“If you can afford it, why wouldn’t you help to bring a cure forward as fast as possible?” Ric says.
Please donate now to help bring us closer to a community free of asthma.
We would like to thank Ric for his generous support of Asthma Australia and for sharing his story as a part of the Asthma Champion Program. Thank you for being a voice for people with asthma.
Do you have a story to tell? Become an Asthma Champion.