"My sister, Dottie, passed away at the age of 48 of emphysema, which is a form of COPD. The other is chronic bronchitis," Patty tells The Boot. "She really didn't know. She had a brain aneurysm and she had to undergo surgery. But when they got her back into the hospital again after the surgery, the doctors discovered then that she had emphysema. But five years prior to that, she did not know. She thought, 'Maybe I'm getting older' or 'something's not quite right' ... This is what took her life. It was a shock when she passed away, of course, but I feel that if we had known or had the information about COPD and what it was about, that maybe we could have gotten more information. If she had known what it was doing to her, she would have sought treatment and tried her best to quit [smoking] and maybe it would have extended her life, and we would have had her a lot longer. It was just too soon for me."
Patty explains that she lost her sister, who was an instrumental inspiration to her singing career, at a moment when she needed her the most. "Right after I lost her, I was getting close to losing my husband," recalls Patty. "He had pancreatitis. In July, I lost her and then in August, he became ill and I almost lost him. There was just a lot of things going on, not only the bad, but there was some good things that I wanted her and him to share with. And it was difficult. I felt a little melancholy at the time. I didn't know whether to feel happiness about winning Female Vocalist of the Year that year at the CMA. There were a lot of things that I didn't know how to feel. And actually when I got back from winning -- I was out with my friends and celebrating, but Emory [Gordy, Jr., Patty's husband] wasn't able to be with me because he had just got in from the hospital. When I got in, I sat up until five o'clock in the morning and just sat in that chair in my living room and cried. It was kind of hard to have tears of happiness."
For more information on COPD, go to drive4copd.com -- which is also the site where Patty is offering up the campaign song, 'Drive,' for free. She co-wrote the uptempo tune with her husband, Emory. You can also take the five-question screener and be automatically entered to win either a trip to this year's CMA Awards or a NASCAR experience in February.
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Patty Loveless on AOL Music