Pulmonary fibrosis

PF Awareness Month

September is Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, and in honor of that, we’re rounding up what members of the PatientsLikeMe community have shared about pulmonary fibrosis on our blog. First off, for those who don’t know – what is pulmonary fibrosis (PF)? It’s a chronic, progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs, which makes it difficult for oxygen to transfer from your lungs into your bloodstream. It may be caused by certain medications, environmental exposures or underlying diseases of the autoimmune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma). Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), the cause of which is still unknown, is the type of PF most people might’ve heard of, but there are many other forms of PF, such as sarcoidosis and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. Now let’s take a look back at some blog posts about PF. In 2013, member Ian shared about his journey from having “stiff lungs” and getting diagnosed with IPF to undergoing a lung transplant. “I was bloody determined to have a transplant,” he said. Read more here. In 2014, member John_R discussed his adjustment to his “new normal” of living with IPF and using supplemental oxygen. “My oxygen use was quickly accepted at work,” he said. “There were a couple of double takes when people …

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Meeting PF patients where they are

Say hello to John (John_R), a father, grandfather and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) survivor. Sound familiar? Last year he shared his story about life after a double lung transplant and the importance of considering a lung transplant early. This year, John started a Facebook group to live-stream pulmonary fibrosis (PF) support group meetings and conferences. “I am very passionate about honoring the precious gift provided by my donor family and in living a life worthy of their generosity.” John received a bilateral lung transplant on January 1st, 2015, and believes he’s alive today thanks to his donor family and care team at UT Southwestern in Dallas. Now, he’s committed to raising awareness for the needs of the pulmonary fibrosis community. Life after transplant John’s life before transplant included the use of supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, and what he calls, “an eminent expiration date” in his near future. He couldn’t visit family in Colorado or the higher elevations of New Mexico due to the altitude, and every breath was a struggle. “The biggest thing about life after lung transplant is that I no longer have a firm expiration date, I can have hope. I can go to Colorado and …

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PatientsLikeMe Welcomes Next Patient Team of Advisors

  CAMBRIDGE, Mass, November 14, 2016—PatientsLikeMe has named 11 members to its patients-only 2016–2017 Team of Advisors, which this year will focus on elevating the patient voice. Team members will share their stories, participate in community initiatives, and give real world perspectives to our industry and research partners. “Each year, our Team of Advisors has proven an invaluable source of inspiration and support for the PatientsLikeMe community,” said PatientsLikeMe CEO Martin Coulter. “We look forward to learning from this year’s team as we partner to identify how we can change healthcare for the better.” More than 500 PatientsLikeMe members submitted applications for this year’s Team of Advisors. Those selected represent a range of medical and professional backgrounds and ages. They are living with a cross-section of conditions, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autonomic neuropathy, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), lung cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease. Members named to the team include: Cris Simon, Gary Rafaloff, Ginny Emerson, Glenda Rouland, Hetlena Johnson, Jacquie Toth, Jim Seaton, John Blackshear, Kimberly Hartmann, Laura Sanscartier and Lindsay Washington. John Blackshear is living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and looks forward to the opportunity to share his story with others, and …

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The community speaks out for Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month

How much do you know about pulmonary fibrosis? Today kicks off Global PF Awareness Month, and to spread more understanding for this condition which affects over 6,600 PatientsLikeMe members, we asked the community to speak up. In a recent forum thread, members chimed in with the one thing they think people should know about what it’s like to live with PF. Here’s a snapshot of what they had to say:   “…how hard it is to deal with the fact that you can’t do things you used to do and that even things we typically take for granted like showering are very difficult as the condition worsens.” — PatientsLikeMe member living with PF   “Don’t settle, we have options, find a doctor that specializes in interstitial lung diseases which pulmonary fibrosis is part of. Let them decide with your help as a patient what is best for YOU. We are always so quick to put a pill in our mouths and hope it works. With this disease that isn’t necessarily the answer. Live with IPF/PF and advocate for your health.” — PatientsLikeMe member living with PF   “I have lived with pulmonary fibrosis since i was diagnosed 10 years ago but …

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“These lungs are a precious gift” — Member John shares his new “new normal” for National Donate Life Month

April is National Donate Life Month, an annual awareness effort to encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors — and to celebrate those who have donated and saved lives. We recently caught up with IPF member John (John_R), who we interviewed back in 2014. At that time, John described what his “new normal” was like living with his condition. Today, he shares his new “new normal” after a double lung transplant. Below, John talks about how he’s able to breathe more easily and exercise again, and how grateful he is to his donor family: “I think of them often, and strive to honor their gift to the best of my ability.” When we chatted with you in 2014, you talked about how living with IPF and being on oxygen was your “new normal.” Last year, you had a double lung transplant. Tell us what your new “new normal” is like. My “new normal” has really changed following the lung transplant. First is the fact that I no longer require supplemental oxygen. Oxygen tanks, O2 generators and all that plastic tubing are no longer a part of my life. My new normal does include a fairly strict routine for meals …

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Meet Laura from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

  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? …

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“Don’t go it alone” – IPF member Christine shares about her health journey

Christine_Williams was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2009, and ever since, she’s been managing a “rollercoaster ride that’s terrifying and not fun.” But she’s connected with your community on PatientsLikeMe for inspiration and was even referred to a new medical center to be evaluated for a lung transplant by her “rehabilitation buddies.” Below, read what Christine shared about her diagnosis, progression and thoughts on living with IPF. Can you share a bit about your diagnosis experience? We’ve heard from many members that finding an official diagnosis isn’t always easy. What that true for you, too?  Mostly no. In March 2009, I contracted pneumonia back to back within 8 weeks. It was around the time when the swine flu became a big deal, and I had visited Cancun, Mexico that year. I wasn’t necessarily in great health but fairly healthy. I had always attributed my shortness of breath to me being overweight. Because of the pneumonia, a CT scan was ordered. Then a bronchoscopy and finally a video assisted lung biopsy. I was diagnosed however right after the bronchoscopy. I started exhibiting shortness of breath symptoms in 2001. Even went through a series of PFTs at the time but …

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2014 recap – a year of sharing in the PatientsLikeMe community

Another year has come and gone here at PatientsLikeMe, and as we started to look back at who’s shared their experiences, we were quite simply amazed. More than 30 members living with 9 different conditions opened up for a blog interview in 2014. But that’s just the start. Others have shared about their health journeys in short videos and even posted about their favorite food recipes. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who shared their experiences this year – the PatientsLikeMe community is continuing to change healthcare for good, and together, we can help each other live better as we move into 2015. Team of Advisors In September, we announced the first-ever PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors, a group of 14 members that will work with us this year on research-related initiatives. They’ve been giving regular feedback about how PatientsLikeMe research can be even more helpful, including creating a “guide” that highlights new standards for researchers to better engage with patients. We introduced everyone to three so far, and look forward to highlighting the rest of team in 2015. Meet Becky – Becky is a former family nurse practitioner, and she’s a medically retired flight nurse who is living with epilepsy and …

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“We are many” – PatientsLikeMe member Laura reports back on her experiences as a panelist at the FDA Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on IPF

Just yesterday, you saw our very own Sally Okun RN, Vice President of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety, reported back about her experiences at the FDA Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on IPF. And today, we wanted to share the patient experience. For each public meeting, the FDA invites patients and caregivers to apply to be a panelist and share their real-world experiences with the disease – and Laura (LaurCT) was selected to attend! So, along with Sally, Laura headed to Silver Springs, Maryland and spoke to the FDA about what life if really like living with IPF. Check out how it all went below. Laura was officially diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in May 2013, but was living with symptoms for years before that. She’s really an inspirational member of the community and always has her 3-stars (which means Laura is a super health data donor!). Why did you want to be part of the FDA public meeting? It was simple for me, I wanted to be part of the solution. When I was diagnosed with IPF I was quite the mess as many of us are. I’m a fighter. I just can’t sit back and do nothing. …

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Sally Okun reports back from the FDA Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on IPF

On September 26th I was at the FDA for the Patient-Focused Drug Development Public Meeting on IPF. This is one of 20 meetings that the FDA is holding to learn directly from patients and their caregivers about daily life with the specific condition’s symptoms and treatments. (You can learn more about these meetings here.) I have attended a number of these meetings and often have meaningful data to share from our own PatientsLikeMe members. So far, however, the FDA has only allowed patients and caregivers to present and participate as panelists. So to get as much of our members’ real-world health data in front of the FDA as possible, I take full advantage of the public comment period at the end of each meeting. It’s a short 3-5 minutes of time, but it’s a chance to share insights from PatientsLikeMe members and to reflect on some of what’s been discussed during the public meeting. In addition, we submit a full report to the FDA’s public docket that is open for comment two full months following the meeting. The report includes a community profile and the results of any polls PatientsLikeMe members have taken part in prior to the meeting. This meeting was …

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