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Meet Betsy Glaeser

Meet Betsy Glaeser

Betsy Glaeser lives with nontuberculous mycobacteria lung disease and leads a New York NTM patient support group with about 80 members. Because there are more than 150 species of nontuberculous mycobacteria found throughout the environment, identifying species toxic to humans and designing treatment can be challenging.

When Betsy was first diagnosed, she resisted changing her work life, putting in long hours at a high-pressure finance job. However, Betsy’s strain of NTM also was resistant and required daily treatment, both oral and intravenous. She left the workforce but continued to pursue her passions—she studied art history, earning an M.A. and passing her doctoral orals.

Remaining active is critical, as many NTM patients become socially isolated. “Coughing fits in public are every patient’s nightmare,” notes Betsy. Furthermore, fear of infection in public places can cause many patients to stay home. Regular exercise along with airway clearance is key. Betsy stresses the importance of support groups to reduce isolation and ease anxiety.

There is currently no drug approved by the FDA specifically for NTM, and the chronic use of antibiotics can prove costly and difficult to tolerate. Betsy has been on multiple antibiotics daily for 16 years. “We know that there is no cure for NTM,” says Betsy, “and we hope that research may yield effective answers, particularly effective drugs for NTM.”

Betsy finds her leadership of the NTM support group fulfilling, still audits art history courses, travels when she is well enough, and enjoys spending time with a large family.

Thank you, Betsy, for sharing your story!

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