My Circles of Friends Have Overlapped During My IPF Journey

Samuel Kirton avatar

by Samuel Kirton |

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It’s normal for people to come and go in our life. Our circle of friends changes when we change schools, start a new job, get married or divorced, and have children. Being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) had the same effect on my group of friends.

As my IPF progressed, I left my job and went on disability benefits. While saying my goodbyes on my final day in the office, I heard the same sentiments from many colleagues, who were also friends: “We’ll keep in touch” or “We’ll get together.” In the moment, their sentiments were sincere.

Over the past five years, some have kept in touch, and I’ve been able to get together with several. Not everyone knows what to say to someone who has a progressive, incurable disease, and I completely understand that. Still, I’m not ready to give up on the richness of those relationships.

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While some of my former friends moved on, part of the responsibility lay with me; I was moving on also. I was spending time at clinic appointments, undergoing procedures and pulmonary rehabilitation, and attending support groups, which meant I was creating a new circle of friends. For the first time in my life, my circles of friends did not overlap.

My school, work, and local friends have often overlapped because we held common interests. I didn’t want my IPF circle to be separate from my other circles.

Linking my circles

As my IPF progressed and my supplemental oxygen needs increased, I was listed for transplant in March 2021. My wife, Susan, and I began to explore ways to use the internet to keep both old and new friends in the loop about our journey.

Not everyone wanted to know the day-to-day details. While I shared some updates on my personal social media page, Susan and I also created a private page with almost daily updates. We extended an open invitation to our friends to join our community.

We linked our circles together to form a chain. Stronger than any of the individual links, the chain gave me strength.

Don’t let this disease separate your worlds. Pulmonary fibrosis can disrupt nearly all aspects of our lives. I didn’t want it to disrupt the relationships I valued, and honestly, I needed their support on my journey.

People from all parts of my life walked the journey with me. They learned about IPF, organ donation, and the trials of transplant.

Most importantly, everyone made new friends. My work friends were now acquainted with my former classmates. People I’d met in support groups now knew my professional contacts. My children virtually met people I’d often talked about.

I wasn’t the center of the circle; I was simply a part of it, a catalyst for positive change. For instance, it became apparent to those following my journey that a lung transplant was my only hope. While many affirmed that they were already organ donors, at least one person changed their mind and signed up to be a donor.

Looking to the horizon

I had my bilateral lung transplant last July, but my journey continues. Susan and I don’t post updates every day, but we still keep everyone in the loop about my progress post-transplant. Our circles of friends have stayed with us and provided immeasurable love and support, for which I will always be grateful. The future isn’t promised to any of us. Susan and I could not have better friends accompanying us on this journey to make every breath count.

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Karen Carns avatar

Karen Carns

Thanks so much for another interesting and informative update.

We have often said 'we have another circle of friends', many of whom overlap in another circle. We count our blessings every day, and thank you for sharing yours!

Samuel Kirton avatar

Samuel Kirton

Karen and Jim
Thanks for reading this week's column and your comments. I am right there with you counting my blessings every day!

Sam ...


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