Keeping fit to stay alive

John Palmer.
John Palmer.

AN inspirational granddad who is battling a life-threatening condition is keeping fit to stay alive.

Motivated John Palmer, 66, who is fighting against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) goes out walking every single day.

John Palmer pictured with grandaughter Chloe Salem.

John Palmer pictured with grandaughter Chloe Salem.

Inspired by his lifesaving granddaughter, Chloe Salem, nine, John makes sure he stays in good condition to fight off any infections, which could prove fatal if it damages his already narrowed airways in his lungs.

Chloe, who has grown up regularly walking, swimming and cycling with her loving granddad, once dragged him to safety when he stopped breathing in a swimming pool.

John, a retired businessman who also served in the British Army for 22 years, said Chloe keeps him going - but there’s another hugely motivating factor.

“I have another grandchild, Denny, who is 11-months-old,” explained John, who lives in Hartlepool’s Marlborough Street.

“Denny is my motivation right now, I want to keep fit to make sure I am still alive when he gets older so I can do with him exactly what I did with Chloe.”

John contracted the condition which causes damaged airways in the lungs more than three years ago following a bout of post-operation pneumonia.

The brave dad-of-two admits the disease could kill him in the next week or in another 10 years time.

“I could wake up tomorrow morning and not be able to get out of bed, that could go on for the next three months,” he revealed.

“Or I could just carry on as I am now for years.”

John, who also suffered a stroke when serving in Northern Ireland in 1984, moved to Hartlepool from Dover in October last year.

He joined daughter, Kerry Salem, 28, his carer, and his two grandchildren in making the move up north.

In Dover he used to take part in a number of fitness schemes and he is now looking for similar opportunities in Hartlepool.

“I make sure I get out and do some exercise every single day, it’s what keeps me alive,” he said.

“All the time I’m exercising I’m bringing up phlegm and keeping my lungs clear, the clearer I can keep them, the less chance of infection.”

John took the opportunity to pledge his support for the Mail’s new Race for Fitness campaign.

“If you exercise every day it’s doing your heart good,” he said. “Even if you haven’t got COPD, it’s doing your lungs good as well.

“I’m not saying you have to do a marathon, just half an hour every day.

“If I could talk just one more person into trying fitness I would be happy with that, if I can talk 10 people into it then even better.”

Despite his battles, John added: “I love my life, you can’t ask for anymore than that.”