Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disorder including chronic obstructive bronchitis, emphysema and combinations. The management of stable COPD in an advanced stage involves noninvasive mechanical ventilation. There is a lack of convincing scientific studies about the influence of mechanical ventilation on quality of life. Furthermore the role of nurses taking care of people with COPD seems to be unclear. A phenomenological interpretative-hermeneutical analysis of 15 narrative interviews with non-invasive ventilated COPD-patients demonstrates that noninvasive ventilation is associated with improvements in patients' autonomy. "To achieve independence" is described as the central theme of this study and highlights the benefit of independency on patients' quality of life. Other results describe the experiences "To experience breathing", "To seize one's possibilities", "To participate in life", "To have to live with COPD". The results also show that activities of nurses in particular need to include consulting, teaching and monitoring. There is a need for further research to evaluate nursing interventions. This study is a first step in knowledge generation and serves as a basis for further quantitative research.