Jon, from Colorado, kicks off our BE-America series!! We will be featuring a person with bronchiectasis from every state!
You might have heard the expression, “if you don’t like the view, change your perspective.” Jon Bernhard did just that when he summited a 20,000-foot volcanic peak in Mexico.
Jon was a competitive cyclist who won many races. Then, 35 years ago, he found himself becoming easily winded. After many doctors could not figure out why his health was declining, Jon ended up at National Jewish Health. It was there that he was diagnosed with bronchiectasis and NTM lung disease. Based on the advice of his doctors who said bicycle racing was too strenuous, Jon switched to rock climbing.
For Jon, rock and ice climbing (@jonclimbs1 on Instagram) are about adventure and interacting with nature. His love of the outdoors was cultivated by his mother who every summer took her sons on road trips to see America and visit the national parks.
In light of his diagnosis, Jon pursued an adventurous path by traveling the globe and discovering ways to remain active. Jon can be found with his “tribe of climbing colleagues” on rock or icy cliffs in Yosemite National Park, remote Alaskan peaks and many other places off the beaten path.
Two years ago, Jon had his lower left lobe removed from his lung and now has 50-60% lung function. He finds that climbing and cycling help to clear his lungs and maintain his stable health.
National Jewish Health featured Jon in a video.
He believes each patient should be treated in a way that activates and unlocks their hidden potential. “I climb …to prove that we only need to adjust our vision.”
Jon is now training to climb El Capitan in a 24 hour push and has his eye set on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.