Two years ago, Malcolm “Mal” Doyle of West Hartford, Conn., visited his doctor for shortness of breath and went by ambulance to Hartford Hospital. There, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (PF), a life-threatening lung disease that affects 200,000 Americans annually. There is no known cure for pulmonary fibrosis.
Doyle was prescribed oxygen therapy and a medication designed to help slow the progression of the disease. He was told he would only have a short time to live.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Doyle and his family went on vacation to Ocean City. “At first I began to feel sorry for myself and wondered what life would be like in the near future,” Doyle says. “But while walking on the boardwalk, I decided to fight this debilitating disease.”
And fight it he did. When he returned home, Doyle called the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) and inquired about how to start a support group. The PFF connected him with support group leaders in his area and they encouraged him to move forward. He launched the Greater Hartford Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group which now includes 12 to 15 patients and caregivers who meet every month.
“Quality of life is important to all of us, and by sharing our hopes and fears, perhaps we all can live life to its fullest and learn from one another how to live one day at a time,” says Doyle.
Doyle is not only a PFF support group leader, he is also a volunteer Ambassador for the Foundation. He works to raise awareness about PF in his community. On Sept. 4, in conjunction with Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, Doyle held a yoga fundraiser in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square and secured the Delamar West Hotel’s participation in the PFF’s blue lighting initiative. Buildings nationwide have “gone blue” during September to raise awareness and promote the cause through the social media campaign “#BlueUp4PF.”
Doyle says he is grateful to the PFF for its efforts to support patients and fund research toward a cure.
“I’m just so glad to be a part of it,” says Doyle. “From the doctors to the researchers to the patients and families, we are all on this journey helping one another.”