Breathe with no air

Cooper is an active student who struggles daily due to lung condition

Tight lungs. Complete loss of control. The panic can be compared to drowning, stuck and unable to breathe.

Sophomore Robin Cooper discovered her lung disease when she was two years old.

“My mom was at work one day, training at a different pharmacy out of town, and I was there with her taking a nebulizer treatment because I was sick,” Cooper said. “She met this woman who asked what was wrong with me and said I sounded like I had something her daughter had. Her daughter died when she was twelve. That’s obviously not something anyone wants to hear.”

She has a rare condition called bronchiolitis obliterans which is when the body rejects natural lungs and they slowly deteriorate. This causes asthma-like symptoms but can be much more serious in the long run.

“We were set up with the girl’s doctor she had while she was alive, and thankfully they caught it early enough to treat me in the best way possible. For a disease that there isn’t much information about, it’s a pretty big deal,” Cooper said.

This has led to to a fair share of problems and near-death scares for Robin and her family.

“I was running to the Christmas tree one year like any other kid would, and my lungs failed- I stopped breathing. They took me to the hospital and put me on an iron lung, which forces you to breathe, and I somehow survived,” Cooper said. “It was really big on my parents. It’s something we’ve never forgotten.”

With only 30 percent of functioning lung capacity, a transplant may be necessary in the future. For now, she has a variety of other treatments to keep the deterioration at bay.

“I take nebulizer treatments, which involves the mask and albuterol, antibiotics to help immune deficiency, and anything else that could protect from something that could hurt my body,” Cooper said.

Cooper does the opposite of letting her disease affect the way she lives her life. She’s an active participant in band, color guard, debate, and a number of other clubs at school , and she’s an excellent baker when she has the time.

“Even now, I count how many years it’s been, and I realize I’m really lucky,” Cooper said. “It’s just one of the things I’ve learned to live with, but it really helps me live each day to the fullest.”