We’d like to introduce you to Laura, another member of your 2015-2016 Team of Advisors. When Laura was diagnosed in 2013, she’d never heard of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Flash forward three years, and she’s made patient education and advocacy her main focus.
Laura has spoken before the FDA, regularly blogs about IPF on various social platforms and recently started a support group at a local pulmonary rehab center. When we caught up with her, she told us: “I never thought this would be my path but it has been very rewarding.”
Below, Laura opens up about the loneliness of living with a chronic illness and how important it’s been for her to connect with other patients who know what she’s going through.
What gives you the greatest joy and puts a smile on your face?
My grandbabies, both children and animals. Both have no expectations of my limits and love me unconditionally. No matter what they do they make me happy. Soon I will be a great-grandmother and the joy of knowing I’ve lived to see it is a blessing.
How would you describe your condition to someone who isn’t living with it and doesn’t understand what it’s like?
I try to keep it very simple for those that do not understand IPF. I tell them I have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis which is scarring of the lung…that my lungs will fill up with scars and there is no cure and currently the only treatment is one of two pills that may slow the progression or a lung transplant. Anything more than that and you lose their interest. If they ask for more information I give it, otherwise I don’t.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone newly diagnosed with a chronic condition, what would it be?
To take a deep breath and learn everything they can so they can empower themselves.
How important has it been to you to find other people with your condition who understand what you’re going through?
Very important! I have a chronic, fatal terminal illness. It’s a very lonely place to be. The only one that understands the shift in moods is someone who is where I am.
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