CABIN CREEK, W.Va. -- Stacy Carter no longer can do many of the outdoor activities he used to love.
"I used to go hunting and fishing all the time," Carter said. "I can't wander around the woods because of the shortness of breath."
The 54-year-old Campbells Creek man was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease last year. Since he was diagnosed, Carter's been in and out of the hospital and was even in a coma for a week earlier this year, he said.
COPD is an illness that makes it difficult to breathe. It causes wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and other symptoms, and it gets worse over time. As was the case with Carter, smoking often causes the disease.
However, with the help of pulmonary rehabilitation therapy at a new addition to Cabin Creek Health Center in Dawes, doctors tell Carter he'll be able to get his COPD under control.
"I'll stay the same but just get it under control where I can breathe," Carter said. "They can't get it back to where it was, but they can help me stabilize it."
Carter will be one of the first patients at the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center at the clinic, which is one of three sites in Southern West Virginia that will begin offering the therapy.
The project also will have sites at the New River Health Center in Fayette County and Boone Memorial Hospital in Madison.
The project's namesake, Grace Anne Dorney, is an attorney and an advocate for COPD patients. She is the wife of Ted Koppel, the TV journalist best known as the longtime host of "Nightline."
Koppel and Dorney, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and his wife, Sharon, the United Mine Workers of America, Cabin Creek Health Systems, Charleston Area Medical Center and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation have contributed to the project.
Doctors once told Dorney, who also suffers from COPD, that she had three to five years to live. That was in 2001, but with pulmonary rehabilitation therapy - a structured program of group patient education and exercise - she's doing much better, Koppel said.
Patients start out slow, Koppel said, walking on a treadmill at a slow pace and working up to longer distances.
"Here we are, 13 years later, and she's doing about two, two-and-a-half miles a day on the treadmill," Koppel said. "So she's doing very well."
The couple has been motivated to help other people with COPD have the same kind of success.