Health & Environment

COPD Patient Gains New Lease On Life After Taking Part In Studies At Texas A&M’s CTRAL

April 12, 2017

By Justin Ikpo, Texas A&M University College of Education and Human Development

It took two years hard work for Dan Roper to get his life back.

In 2015, following a number of years of unhealthy habits, Roper was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is an irreversible progressive lung disease that causes increased breathlessness. Over 16 million people have the disease in the U.S.

Under the ongoing guidance of faculty and staff members at the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity (CTRAL), Roper, 71, was able to reclaim the way of life he thought he lost.

When Roper was diagnosed, it was the first time that the Georgia-native and former athlete feared for his life due to his health.

Roper 3_0
Before taking part in COPD studies at the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity (CTRAL), Roper could not walk across his home without getting tired.

“I was devastated,” Roper said. “I was morbidly obese and my health was in a total tailspin to the point where I couldn’t even get up out of the chair.”

Scared, in decline, and convinced that he was out of options, Roper decided to reach out to CTRAL. He found out about the program three weeks after his diagnosis after reading an ad in the paper about a COPD study. He thought that by reaching out to them, he could at least learn more information about the disease, while participating in a CTRAL research study.

In addition to each study, Roper started to understand the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. Little by little, he began to exercise daily by getting work done around the house. His persistence and new life outlook helped him lose a total of 96 lbs. in two years. As a result, Roper said he no longer needs to take his blood pressure or heart medication that he once required.

“Thanks to participating in the CTRAL research program, my health has turned a hundred-fold,” he said. “Before, I couldn’t walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without having to sit down. Now I can go anywhere I please.”

Roper is now able to participate in his favorite hobby — woodworking. On any given day, he can be found working in his woodshop next to his house building an assortment of furniture and house fixtures.

“My shop is my sanctuary. I’ve always liked to build things and I couldn’t do it for a long time due to my weight. Basically now, I can do everything I used to be able to do but just a little slower.”

Roper 2
After taking part in studies, Roper was able to return to his woodworking shop.

Currently, Roper and his partner Corey are remodeling their house.

Each addition to the house was built by hand in Roper’s shop. He hopes to have it completed within a few years. Recently, he has focused on increasing his upper body strength by working more extensively with hand tools. He still diets and claims his motivation is as high as ever.

When he is not working in his shop, Roper sits by the phone waiting for the call about the next CTRAL study, he said jokingly.

“They’ve given me my life back,” he said. “First they encouraged me that I wasn’t going to die by not being able to breathe, and now they’ve assisted me in this life-changing event.”

More information on CTRAL can be found on the program website.


This story by Justin Ikpo was originally posted on Transform Lives.

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