Meet the Experts and Advocates

In order to stay up to date on latest treatments, drug discovery, clinical studies and how to manage COPD every day, COPD.net brings you frequent articles, points of view and advice from leading patient advocates and experts.

Ann Cuccia, MPH, RRT

Ann is a full-time faculty member in the Respiratory Care Program at Stony Brook University in New York. She holds a Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Cardiorespiratory Sciences, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health. Read more.

Derek Cummings

I was diagnosed with mild COPD in 1987 when 39 years of age. Now at the very severe stage, I use oxygen for mobility and am disabled by my illness. Despite this I still have an extremely active life, and after more than 27 years of living with bad lungs, am living proof that we with COPD can enjoy a long life. I am often seen at events, meetings, restaurants, and publicity events though I wear a ‘nose hose’ for oxygen when mobile and a mobility scooter to get around. Read more.

Janet Plank

I was an EMT-I and working ambulance for numerous years before health changed things. First I was diagnosed with adult asthma and allergies. About a year later, my doctors sent me to National Jewish where I was diagnosed with COPD. Read more.

John Bottrell, RRT

John Bottrell is a licensed respiratory therapist who also lives with allergic asthma. He has been blogging about his profession at Respiratory Therapy Cave since 2007, and about his disease at Hardluck Asthma since 2010. He has also been a featured asthma and COPD writer for healthcentral.com since 2008. His love of history inspired him to create Asthma History, where he writes about the history of lung disease, which includes asthma and COPD. Read more.

Kathi MacNaughton, RN, BSN

I am an experienced consumer health education writer who had a career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years, much of it in the field of home health care, working with chronically ill people. I am also an avid fitness enthusiast and all-round advocate for healthy living. I believe that patients and families have not only a right, but also the responsibility to take charge of their own health. No one needs to give in to a disease or to the aging process! It is possible to continue to live a quality life. Read more.

Leon C. Lebowitz, RRT

Leon is a career respiratory therapy professional in New York City. He is a New York State licensed, nationally credentialed respiratory therapist and has practiced at many New York metropolitan area hospitals since 1973. Currently, he is the Technical Director of the Respiratory Therapy Department at the Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, where he has worked since 1988. As well, he is a founding member of the New York Downstate Association for Respiratory Therapists (NYDART, Inc.) for whom he currently serves as Board Member Emeritus. He has several journal articles and one text book (Respiratory Care Pearls) to his credit. Read more.

Lyn Harper, MPA, BSRT, RRT

Lyn Harper, MPA, BSRT, RRT is the Director of Respiratory Care at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY. In this role, Lyn has been instrumental in implementing a comprehensive COPD education process hospital-wide. She is responsible for leading the COPD team that trains patients to manage their COPD through medication, lifestyle adjustments, recognition of flare-ups, and regular visits to their Pulmonologist. Read more.

Mariah Z. Leach

Mariah is a writer and patient advocate who lives in Colorado with her husband and two young sons. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the middle of law school, Mariah now uses her law degree to help people with chronic health issues. Read more.

Mary Ultes

I’m a 69-year-old woman who has have stage four COPD for 17yrs & end stage COPD for 8 yrs. After being diagnosed with COPD, & on oxygen 24/7 I kept smoking on & off for nine years. 8 yrs ago after a I almost died for the third time, beside using oxygen 24/7 I had to use a nonintrusive ventilation device, (known to most as a BI-PAP) 24/7. One year later I was put on Hospice & given less than 6 month to live. I was a Hospice patient for 3 & 1/2 years. The doctors kept telling me I was dying. However, I choose not to believe them, and by the grace of God, so far, I’m right and they’re wrong. Read more.

Matthew DiChiara

For over 7 years Matthew has studied healthcare communications, including the interactions between physicians and their patients. In that time he developed a passion for identifying the most important elements to producing a successful medical interaction. After realizing that medical communication is an essential but incomplete component of health, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition and food science. Now in the final stages of that degree, he has a broader perspective on what other elements (i.e., balanced nutrition) are necessary for optimal health and well-being. Read more.

Michael Vincent

I am a 55 year old male who lives with Michelle Vincent and function (somewhat) as a caregiver. I say somewhat as in my mind each person is their own primary caregiver. I have challenges of my own to deal with in the form of a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danloss Syndrome. Read more.

Michelle Vincent

Diagnosed a couple of years ago, she has Stage Three COPD with some symptoms of Stage Four. She combats her illness with a sense of humor and irony and has found that it’s not all bad, especially since she was already looking for an excuse to get out of doing housework. She’s discovered joy in the small details of the world and loves to express this through photography, a hobby that has given her purpose. Read more.

Steven Workman

Steven is a husband and a father of four. In his South Texas home, he has two large dogs that are protective of him. During his service in the United States Army, 1st Infantry Division, during a deployment to Iraq, his battle with PTSD started and he began experiencing episodic migraines. Most recently, he was diagnosed with COPD. Read more.

Theresa Cannizzaro, RRT

Lungs are Theresa’s passion, both personally and professionally. She was diagnosed with mild asthma at age 8 and it turned severe when she was in her late 20s, and by age 30 was in the “severe persistent steroid dependent” category. Now 33, and after undergoing successful Bronchial Thermoplasty in the summer of 2015, Theresa has gone from needing 7 asthma medications down to 2. Theresa graduated from college and became a Respiratory Therapist in 2004. Read more.

Tonya Hidalgo

Tonya Hidalgo blogs at The COPD Life and is the author of Traveling With COPD, a basic guide for traveling with extra equipment and oxygen. Traveling with her mom gave Tonya memories to last a lifetime. Although her mother was apprehensive about it at times, she would push through, finding that it was all worth the extra planning. Read more.

With the exception of medical doctors, contributors and moderators at COPD.net are compensated for their contributions to the COPD.net community. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us at contact@copd.net.