Hi, my name is Heidi Lawton and I would like to introduce myself as your AlphaNet Coordinator.
I reside in Florida and am happily married to my husband Chris. Together we have a pre-teen daughter and a blended family with three other children, all living on their own. In addition, we love animals and have two dogs named Sasha and Hemingway and one cat named Tom Servo. Before becoming an AlphaNet Coordinator, I homeschooled our daughter from kindergarten through fourth grade. I enjoy reading, cooking, baking and spending time with my family.
I am a SZ Alpha, diagnosed in April 2013. I was only diagnosed because my primary care physician thought that it was unusual when I was diagnosed with COPD at the age of 32. She decided to give me pulmonary function tests (PFTs) which showed that my lung function was at 32%. It was at that point that she tested me for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. One week later, I found out I had Alpha-1. I really didn’t know what to think that day. At the time, I had been a smoker for 17 years. I immediately quit smoking and changed a lot of things in my life for the better.
After my diagnosis, I found a pulmonologist who, unfortunately, was not very knowledgeable about Alpha-1 so much of my knowledge was acquired through self-learning. Eventually, I had a port put in for easier infusions, which was a learning process for me. In addition to Alpha-1, I also have epilepsy which has restricted my life in certain regards, but I have managed to utilize tools around me and avoid certain triggers. I love sharing my knowledge of Alpha-1 with other Alphas and non-Alphas so that people can understand what we endure and how we cope with it to improve our lives.
In Tampa, I was able to find a support group that had a positive impact on my life. I was able to connect with other Alphas and share my story, too. It was an uplifting experience to meet others and discuss what we do to manage our condition. With my work as an AlphaNet Coordinator, I am looking forward to helping other Alphas on their journey. As we say at AlphaNet: “Alphas Serving Alphas.”