Betty Blake knows all too well the deadly side of asthma.

She lost her 18-year-old cousin to an asthma attack.

Blake, a 78-year-old retired registered nurse who specialised in paediatric medicine, spent the majority of her career helping children and their families manage asthma and other respiratory conditions.

“Never did I think that I would need so much help to manage my own asthma,” she says.

Blake experienced her first asthma attack at age 26.

For the next 44 years, asthma didn't have much impact on her life, but that all changed eight years ago.

“In 2016, I experienced my first admission to hospital for asthma and, since then, I have been back a few times.

“Asthma has become an unwelcome, very irksome, troublesome companion in my life.”

Blake is now trying to manage her asthma well, so she can live life well every day, she says.

She tries to maintain her values and focus on things that bring her joy, such as her family(she’s a mother and grandmother), reading, learning, vegetable gardening, keeping fit and contributing to community life.

Blake is a very active member of her retirement village in Silverdale, Auckland.

She helped establish a COVID-19 response plan to support residents during the Omicron outbreak.

Blake is also a qualified Strength and Balance Instructor, who holds weekly classes in the village, and leads a group of residents in vegetable gardening.

Betty Blake was the recipient of the Adult Asthma Award at the 2024 Respiratory Achievers’ Awards on Thursday.

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