Lessons I’ve Learned Since My IPF Diagnosis 3 Years Ago

Lessons I’ve Learned Since My IPF Diagnosis 3 Years Ago

PF-Charlene Marshall graphic

We learn the most important lessons in the most difficult times, and I’m grateful to have had opportunities to live those lessons and share them with others.

An internet search of popular life lessons showed me the following:

  • It’s not all about you.
  • Your health is your most valuable asset.
  • Don’t take anything for granted.
  • Perspective is a beautiful thing.

While I always heard those cliches, I didn’t really live those lessons until my idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) diagnosis in April 2016.

Now I know not to take anything for granted and I realize that my health was my most valuable asset. I would do anything to be healthy again! Furthermore, I now have a unique perspective on life and desire to live in the moment because I recognize my morality — I can no longer rely on planning things “someday.” Lastly, I don’t feel guilty about making “everything” about me. I don’t mean that in a selfish way. I am still committed to helping others and giving back. However, when it comes to self-care or social activities that I don’t want to participate in, I often decline because I must take care of myself.

As I reflected on my three-year diagnosis anniversary, I wrote a list of other lessons I’ve learned.

  • Proactive avoidance of difficult situations: This is inspired by a new favorite book of mine called “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.” Before reacting, I ask myself if the situation is worth investments of emotional, physical, or mental energy. If it isn’t, I let it roll off my shoulders and move on. This approach has saved me hours of frustration, tears, and anger.
  • Be kind to others: While this may seem obvious, practicing it isn’t always instinctual. Life sometimes gives others too much to handle. We never know everything a person goes through, so it’s important to always be kind. I try my best to do this. I am always striving to be better at it.
  • Prioritize what makes me happy: Since I’ve begun prioritizing what brings me joy, both my mental and physical health have improved. My relationships with others have also improved, along with my ability to better manage my time.

What important lessons have you learned since your pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis?

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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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2 comments

  1. Viv says:

    I have learn to let go and don’t worry about the small stuff. Life is too short. Take care of yourself first. Trust in God🌺

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Viv,

      Thank you for reading my columns and getting in touch via the comments. I couldn’t agree more with the lesson you’ve learnt, about not sweating the small stuff. Life is too short and at the end of the day, the only one we need to look out for is ourselves. Wishing you well and thanks for writing.
      Charlene.

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