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How One Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Gets by with a Little Help from His Friends

Photo: Courtesy of Sean Keoni Craig

In February of 2015, I started to get a recurring dry cough that wouldn’t go away. I went to the doctor several times and each time was diagnosed with colds, sinus infections, post sinus drips, and other similar things. I would be given various antibiotics which didn’t help. Finally, in late October, a friend of mine recommended that I go and see her doctor. 

Getting the right diagnosis

Being a new patient, I informed him of my family health history. My mother had developed lung cancer from smoking and my father died of interstitial pulmonary fibrosis when he was 46 years old back in 1982. He was a heavy smoker and was exposed to chemicals in his career. Knowing that he died of this disease, I purposely didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. 

My new doctor sent me for a CT scan. A few days later I got the results of the scan, which showed scar tissue. I was then sent to see a pulmonologist, Dr. Eric Crawley. After my first appointment which included various pulmonary function tests, he confirmed that I had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a terminal lung disease in which scar tissue builds up in the lungs. 

Adjusting to a new life

Although it was difficult knowing I had a terminal lung disease, I kept positive. I knew that even without a cure I had options. My family and friends became a source of support — as I like to call them, my village. 

This past year I ran into a couple of high school friends who were asking how I was doing with the disease. I told them that I’m trying to eat better, exercise when I can, and am still working full time. I am definitely not giving up whatsoever. But exercise had become cumbersome and health insurance only covered portable oxygen tanks that would last 15 minutes each. I would have to haul these tanks with me and it became a hassle. I told my friends that I was saving up for a portable oxygen concentrator. 

It takes a village

And this is when I was shown the most unconditional love and compassion ever. These friends took it upon themselves to start a GoFundMe campaign and purchased me a portable oxygen concentrator. Since then, several friends who are local entertainers have offered to put on a benefit concert. This will help raise funds for medical expenses when I have to get a double lung transplant. 

I have been blessed by having the best friends and family who have shown so much love and compassion over the past two years. It’s simply incredible. In the meantime, I’m still able to work full time and am able to pay for medical expenses on my own. But at least I know that when the time comes, my “village” of support will be there. 

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