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Asheville woman fights LAM disease

Laura Bowers, of Asheville, is a survivor of LAM lung disease. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

An Asheville woman short of breath for years finally has answers, and a new treatment is giving her a voice in more ways than one.

"I first had symptoms of shortness of breath when I was pregnant with my daughter."

Nine years later, Laura Bowers, of Asheville, is a survivor of LAM lung disease.

Muscle cells spread into areas of the the lungs -- where they don't belong -- and can form tumors.

"That shortness of breath progresses over time, and it's harder for patients and physicians to pick up on what's happening," Bowers said.

She now requires oxygen for rigorous activity.

Bowers was initially diagnosed with asthma and then emphysema, but her family physician, Dr. Sharon Lechner, suspected something else for the life-long nonsmoker.

"My job was to keep pushing for answers until something made sense," said Lechner, a physician with Community Family Practice.

"Does this make sense?" News 13's Jay Siltzer asked.

"It does," Lechner replied of the LAM diagnosis.

Only about five women in a million have LAM.

Still, the disease isn't stopping Bowers.

The 43-year-old is on Sirolimus, a medication to slow progression of the disease.

"Having the knowledge and education to care for myself and improve my health has changed my life," Bowers said. "I want to give that to other women."

There is no cure for LAM lung disease. A last resort is a double lung transplant. Click here to learn more about LAM.

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