A PF Patient Reflects on Another Birthday

A PF Patient Reflects on Another Birthday

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

Two weeks ago, I was blessed to celebrate another birthday — 61 to be exact! As a PF patient, you know how significant this is. I wonder if every birthday is my last. These thoughts happen for me with every holiday and anniversary, too. I normally would not let the world know it was my birthday, but this year I want to, for a purpose.

Birthday girl

(Photo by Kim Fredrickson)

Every birthday I celebrate is very significant for me. When I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis three and a half years ago, my doctor predicted I wouldn’t make it to 59. Praise God I’m still here! I know I wouldn’t be here without His grace, mercy, and working behind the scenes to sustain my life.

Having a terminal illness brings this truth to the forefront for me. My faith tells me that every breath I take is a gift from God. I know your faith system may be different from mine, and I am not trying to force my beliefs on you. I just want to share some verses that encourage me and that may bring you encouragement, too.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The verses talk about how our external bodies are wasting away, but we are to not lose heart. Why? Because we are being renewed day by day by our Lord. This perspective gives us a healthy way to balance gratitude for every breath we have, without losing heart from the troubles we are going through.

These troubles are what help me grow and mature, and I am renewed by God’s ever-present love, strength, and mercy. It is encouraging for me to know that even though my body is falling apart, my inner self can continue to grow and become more vibrant and healthy!

Focus on what matters

These verses encourage me to focus and give more value to things that are lasting. This includes my inner character, relationship with God and others, and the love, hope, and life that reflect God’s presence in my life.

I want to focus and give less value to those things that are temporary such as my possessions, status, outward appearance, and those things that draw me away from God.

I KNOW you are going through so much, too. Being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis is SO HARD. We have so much to deal with, which can be overwhelming and depressing.

Helpful tips

Following are some things I do to help me stay centered and positive in the midst of such an awful diagnosis. I try to:

  • Allow myself to grieve
  • Be grateful for every breath and every moment
  • Use these trials and devastating moments to draw me to God
  • Allow Him to love me as I strive to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
  • Focus on what lies ahead … an eternal glory that outweighs what I am going through now
  • Be kind to myself about my struggles and my need for help and support
  • Take as good care of myself as possible
  • Do all I can to improve the quality of my life
  • Take care of business, in order to leave an impact on my loved ones after I’m gone

I hope my reflections on another birthday help you reflect on your life and help you to focus on the gift of life, the grace of God, and ways to stay as centered and positive as possible.

I’d love to hear from you

What is your response to this post? How did it affect you personally? What encourages and challenges you? What helps you stay centered and positive?

Please leave a comment below and share with those who could benefit via email or on social media. We’re in this together.


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.

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  1. Jim W says:

    Kim, I see IPF differently from some others. It is not cancer, nor Parkinson’s, nor alzheimer’s, etc. It has no cure and that means there are no side effects from the cure. Every day is pretty good. Sure, I don’t want that oxygen and I need a nap every afternoon but this is really small stuff compared to chemo, radiation (you know about this) nor do I have to dread an operation and recovery. I can plan with my wife knowing that one day, probably this year, she will have to take over all the things that I have done. We have time to reflect on our lives together and all the great things we have done and places we have gone. Everyone will die but I know with some accuracy when I will die and that is an advantage. No surprises. IPF is a blessing.

    • Jim, I LOVE your perspective. Thank you so much for sharing it. There are a lot of blessings in this diagnosis, especially compared to other more painful diseases out there. Blessings to you.

  2. Joyce Douglas says:

    Thank you Kim for sharing. I agree with you 100%. We may not like what we have, but we know the God is with us, and for us and will protect us. I came down with a nasty cough a few days ago and have had to go on antibiotics to clear it up. I know now that I have to be more proactive about where I go and whom I sit beside so I don’t get another cold/cough after I get this one cleared up. I too don’t know the date of my passing and I realize that I have no real guarantee about my future, but I am planning to celebrate our 60th wedding Anniv. in August and my 80th birthday next January. those are my goals for this year! Wish me luck.

    • Hi Joyce, thanks so much for sharing. So sorry for your cough, but am so glad you got on antibiotics right away. I love your goals for this year! I bet you’ll make it! Congratulations on two such wonderful milestones!

    • Mary says:

      Joyce, wishing you many beautiful days ahead. Live, love and acknowledge the journey as an opportunity to fully appreciate all that life has offered. God bless you today and all your tomorrows.

  3. Susan thomas says:

    Your article touched my heart. I often wonder how people with IPF go through life without a strong faith and a daily walk with God. Thank you for sharing your story and your faith.

    • Peggy Flynn says:

      It took approx. 5 months for me. Applied in April. End of May Social security sent me a notice to go to a doctor of their choosing for a pulmonary function test. Was approved mid August.

  4. ARM says:

    Thanks for your comments, I always wonder if I am the only one that ever thinks of things like this. And Jim W, thank you for the words.

    • Jim W says:

      Hi Susan,
      I take OFEV. Have a little diarrhea and it may be from OVEF but I cannot be sure as I take OFEV every day but don’t have diarrhea every day. It is the only side effect I have from the drug. I was on the drug trial for Esbrit and it did not set well with me at all. I decided if I was going to feel this rotten I would just as soon die so I dropped out. Email me if you have questions about OFEV. [email protected] OFEV is expensive but I get financial help from a foundation and insurance.

  5. E. hays says:

    I don’t know if it’s my age (84) or staying busy as possible but when I was diagnosed over 7 years ago I checked Internet, saw prognosis was about 3 years, and never really thought about it very much after that. The first couple years post diagnosis, my husband and I continued to travel but did have to, too soon, curtail that. There are days I’m irritated by the limitations and annoyances of IPF, but I get over it. I’ve been on Esbriet since it was approved by the FDA, completely lost my appetite on max dose when started, cut back after about 2 months after fast loss of weight. Have been on maintenance of 2 capsules 3 times a day. Appetite is better but have now added ensure supplement to maintain weight. One thing that cheers me up is getting out of the house for half an hour, if possible. And don’t think about how soon you’re gonna die; you may be surprised, so keep moving and try to enjoy every day.

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