Holding Tight to What’s Positive Up Ahead

Holding Tight to What’s Positive Up Ahead

younger than 30
Throughout this yearlong journey with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), to which I am an unwilling participant, I have often spoken with others about the benefits of having something positive to look forward to. Knowing something good is on the horizon helps in coping with this disease — whether it be something you are excited about, or something that makes you feel good. I find just looking forward to this something helps me ground myself, and to balance out all the medical appointments and jargon. Especially when the emotional turmoil of IPF becomes too much.

When I write out my weekly schedule/calendar, I try to find something positive. It could be going with friends for dinner, or dedicating an evening to take my dog to the local dog park and watch her play. It could be catching up with my friends from Australia via a Skype chat, or designating time to be alone at home and watch a movie in bed.

Whatever you choose, look forward to it. It doesn’t have to be a grand event; something small can have just as much meaning. That said, I choose to write this column about something I am looking forward to in a few weeks that is, for me, a grand event. It is a chance for me to reclaim from IPF a bit of control over my life. Let me explain …

For those of you who have read my columns for a while, you know that I used to love to run. While I couldn’t go very far, nor was I a very strong or graceful runner, I enjoyed it nonetheless, and miss it terribly. It is now spring here in Canada, and I think back to this time last year, when I was diagnosed with IPF. At the time, I was not yet really feeling the physical effects of the disease. I was still going out just as the sun was going down with a light jacket, and able to complete a run without issue.

With spring finally arriving, I recently sent a text a close friend, Sally, who is also a runner. I told her how much I was thinking of her, and how I imagined how much she is enjoying this beautiful weather to run in. This friend knows of my struggles with IPF, and my desire to put on my running shoes and just go. Sally also has one of the kindest hearts I have ever met.

She informed me that, in a couple of weeks, she is taking part in a 20 km run in our city, and asked me if I would be willing to join her for the last kilometer of that run! She let me know that she thinks she will be really tired, and will struggle to finish by the time she reaches the end. She said that having someone waiting for her to get her through that last 1 km will be both helpful and motivating.

The plan is that I will wait at the 19-km mark with her husband, and run/walk/jog the last kilometer with her to the finish line. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps and brings a tear to my eye, because I don’t think it is physically possible for me to complete a run of any length on my own. Here, I am still able to experience the “high” of participating in a run, even if it is a short one and on the tail end. Even better, by participating I hopefully will help encourage and motivate my friend to finish an amazing 20-km run — and maybe someday be able to run the full thing with her!

This run is something that I am looking forward to. It is something positive that I will try to remember when everything in relation to my disease becomes overwhelming. It is a grand thing that is marked on my weekly calendar/schedule with much excitement.

It takes place Sunday, April 30, and I am eagerly waiting for that day to wear my Lung Foundation running shirt, and show IPF that I can reclaim a bit of control over my physical abilities!

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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
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Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
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3 comments

  1. Karen says:

    Good for you. I try everyday to do something positive. Enjoy your “run” on April 30th . I will be thinking of you.

  2. Sandra says:

    That is terrific! I agree that doing something for yourself and having something to look forward to is energizing and hopeful. Enjoy the run!! You are a courageous trooper!

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and for reading my columns! I couldn’t agree more, how important it is to look forward to something and I am trying to keep that in mind as I plan for the year ahead. Hope is so important to have amidst this journey, isn’t it? 🙂 Thank you again for reading and your kind words, they really mean a lot!

      Cheers,
      Charlene

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