Detroit Man Shares Inspiring Story to Help People with Debilitating Disease
(September 12, 2019) - DETROIT
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Just three years ago, Detroit resident Bob Slumkoski said it felt like it took him forever to perform simple tasks because of undiagnosed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Today, thanks to pulmonary rehabilitation and the American Lung Association’s Better Breathers Clubs, Slumkoski leads an active life.
During September for Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, he is sharing his story to inspire others who have been diagnosed with the disease and participating in the Detroit LUNG FORCE Walk to raise money for lung disease research.
For a long time, Slumkoski felt short of breathe and it took him a significant amount of time to do simple tasks because he kept having to stop to catch his breath. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. During most of his career, Slumkoski worked near a refinery in Detroit, where he was breathing in propane, dust, grease and oils. Although doctors aren’t sure what caused his pulmonary fibrosis, this could have played a part.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most common type of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that causes scarring of the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, however medications and exercise help slow the progression of the disease. A double lung transplant is an option for certain people.
After his diagnosis, Slumkoski began pulmonary rehabilitation to help improve his breathing and began exercising to strengthen his lungs. He also joined the local Better Breathers Club, a support and educational group for people facing chronic lung disease. Currently, Slumkoski is on the lung transplant list at the Henry Ford Medical Center, but he is doing so well that his status is “inactive.”
“I feel much better than when I was first diagnosed. If I wasn’t in pulmonary rehab, I wouldn’t be able to get off the couch. I am going to continue to do what I am doing,” said Slumkoski. “The Better Breathers Club has a lot of information and lots of different doctors come in to talk about living with lung disease. It is very helpful and the information is phenomenal.”
Shortly after his diagnosis, Slumkoski signed up for the LUNG FORCE Walk, which happens each September at the Detroit Zoo. On September 29, he will again walk to raise more awareness for lung diseases like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
“This disease [pulmonary fibrosis] isn’t well known yet, but it is getting there,” he said.
The LUNG FORCE Walk is a unique fundraising event for the Lung Association, where hundreds of local residents rally friends, neighbors, and colleagues to raise their voices against lung cancer and lung disease. Funds raised support research, advocacy and educational programs for the Lung Association in Michigan. For more information on the event, or to register, visit the LUNG FORCE website.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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