Monday, June 3 was a difficult day for the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community. An advocate, colleague, and friend passed away from complications of PF, but even in her death, Kim Fredrickson will continue to inspire many living with this life-threatening lung disease. While her loss is felt deeply in the PF community, she leaves behind a legacy that won’t be forgotten.
I have procrastinated writing this column because the words to memorialize Kim escaped me. As a columnist, I’m still uncertain that I can adequately capture the impact Kim had on my life, and as her friend, I wish I didn’t have to do this.
I was introduced to Kim when she joined the team at BioNews Services. We became co-columnists, but more importantly, we became fast friends, recognizing many similarities in what we were facing, not only as a result of PF, but also in our personal lives. Kim and I shared a passion for family therapy and had similar career roles outside of writing for Pulmonary Fibrosis News.
I vividly remember a phone conversation quickly straying from the topic of our disease to what led us to working as therapists. Unsurprisingly, it was Kim’s desire to help people that influenced her more than 30-year career, and I have no doubt that many lives were improved because of her. What I hope she knows now is how much she influenced my life and how deeply she will be missed.
When I found out about Kim’s passing, I sat frozen on my bed as the tears streamed down my face. After pulling myself out of shock, I spent time reading our various online correspondences. In many of those exchanges, Kim encouraged me or offered help, regardless of the trials and tribulations she was facing. I was in awe of her selflessness and ability to think of others, even during her difficult times in the intensive care unit at the University of California, San Francisco, while awaiting new lungs.
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In anticipation of writing this column, I pondered what I wanted to leave readers feeling or thinking about. The most important thing for me was to ensure that readers who didn’t know Kim finished my column feeling like they had gotten to know her a little bit. As a result, I spent time reviewing some of our past conversations and connecting them to some of Kim’s best qualities, in my opinion. While there are so many good things to say about her, I’ll leave you with these:
- Kim was generous with her time and energy. Despite being physically exhausted at times, Kim generously offered tips from past experiences about new initiatives I was taking on. One of our longest Skype conversations involved her sharing helpful tips for advocating publicly for PF. Kim also regularly connected with me about topics I could share on the Pulmonary Fibrosis News Forums.
- Kim was committed to supporting others and seeing them succeed. I once was invited to participate in a live Q&A on living with IPF, and although I was nervous, Kim was there to cheer me on. I remember being struck by her commitment to supporting me when she said she’d set an alarm to ensure she didn’t miss the event.
- Kim was reflective and committed to improvement. Throughout the years I’ve known Kim, we had several opportunities to speak about PF and share our stories. Knowing the vulnerability that came with this, Kim always checked in with me about how those speaking opportunities, interviews, or sharing of stories had gone. If I was ever hesitant or thought something could be improved, Kim spent the time discussing specifics and what I could do differently in the future.
- Kim was kind. There are far too many examples for me to summarize here, but a few times, Kim would intimately understand my struggles and offer her support. We connected on topics that were deeply personal, such as the vulnerability that comes with fundraising initiatives or helping others understand the seriousness of this disease. She was always there to lend an ear and offer kind words of support.
- Kim was compassionate. BioNews Services lost another incredible staff member last September, when Serena Lawrence died of complications of pulmonary hypertension. She and I were friends for many years before getting involved with BioNews Services or falling ill with a pulmonary disease. Kim regularly checked in with me after Serena’s passing and offered compassionate and genuine support.
It’s hard to summarize a loss as profound as this. My hope is that comfort comes to Kim’s family and friends from the knowledge that she is no longer struggling and is free of pain. Rest peacefully, Kim. We’ll always remember you.
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.