30 Days of PF: Honoring the Unforgettable Friends I’ve Lost

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Photo courtesy of Kevin Olson

Day 21 of 30

This is Kevin Olson’s story:

I joined the Greater Kansas City Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group, making several new friends who would influence my life. Unfortunately, we would lose some of them to this dreadful disease. I am honoring some who have died. They all had one thing in common: a positive attitude.

At my first support group meeting, there were about eight other people. I met John and Dan. They were inseparable, and asked multiple questions and shared wisdom in each meeting. In one meeting, John asked me the question, “Do you think about your PF every day?” I thought about it and said yes. To this day, I think about PF and my lung transplant every day.

Dan asked me how I would handle people asking me why I was on oxygen. He had had some negative experiences. My thoughts were to have a positive reaction to every person. I designed a business card with facts about PF and provided it to others to raise awareness about PF.

Another person I met was Gary. We became close friends, and teamed up to help start a local support group closer to where we lived. We accomplished it but, sadly, it was disbanded because of the pandemic. However, Gary kept his quality of life at the highest level possible. He continued to play pickleball until he had an exacerbation. Afterward, he got a scooter, and this kept him engaged. He would go to support group meetings and even rode his scooter to meet friends for lunch.

Then there was Patricia, who had a thirst for knowledge about PF. She will be missed at this year’s PFF summit. But, fiercely, she fought this horrible illness.

As the support group grew, I met Harold and Jim, who brought fresh ideas and helped the group to grow even more.

Finally, I honor my wife’s father, Bob. I had never met him, but he had an influence on my life. The memory of him helped us get through some rough times.

I try to remember my friends with PF and their experiences. They made a big impact on my life and will never be forgotten.

Note: Kevin Olson writes the column “Riding the IPF Roller Coaster” for Pulmonary Fibrosis News.

Pulmonary Fibrosis News’ 30 Days of PF campaign will publish one story per day for PF Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPF, or read the full series.

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