Five years ago, I started noticing that I was a little short of breath for a man in his early 60s, but I contributed it to being a little out of shape. After recovering from Viral Pneumonia I noticed that I was still short of breath. Because my family has a history of Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF), I wisely had it checked out. The news was not good. With my family history and my close connection to the American Lung Association – I quit smoking using the ALA's Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program and then became a certified program facilitator, helping other smokers quit for more than 30 years – I was ahead of the game in terms of awareness about lung disease.
Pulmonary Fibrosis is a progressive disease that causes irreversible scarring of the lung tissue and makes it increasingly difficult for the body to absorb oxygen. While not curable, if caught in early stages, there are treatments that can slow the progression. Mine was caught early; regardless, my doctor predicted that I would need to be on supplemental oxygen within a year. But five years later, I’m still keeping the disease at bay, breathing unassisted.
I have already lost loved ones to PF – my mother, diagnosed at the age of 63, died at 65, being on oxygen for two years. My sister diagnosed at the young age 51 and a half passed away at 55 years old, being on oxygen for 3 and a half years, I continue to have pulmonary tests twice a year and a CT scan every two years. I also encourage others to be proactive about their health – exercise and eat right. I am on the treadmill 30 minutes every day.
So far, so good. The disease shows no sign of progressing. I also am continuing my work with FFS and am a valuable Lung Association volunteer and supporter!
First published: October 19, 2018
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