Thinking Differently: Ways My Perspective Has Changed Post-diagnosis

Charlene Marshall avatar

by Charlene Marshall |

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Being diagnosed with any type of life-threatening illness will inevitably change a person. This is especially true when there is no link (i.e., genetic predisposition) or reason to think that anything could be wrong, or when the illness is unlikely to target someone due to their age.

That was my case when I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) three years ago. According to everything I read online, along with what my doctor shared, IPF was stereotyped as a disease of the elderly. It was unusual that I was diagnosed with this lung disease at 28 years old, although I am slowly learning that young adults living with IPF are not as rare as people might think.

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Since receiving my life-threatening lung disease diagnosis, I’ve begun to think about some things differently than I did before. I also act and choose to live my life differently since IPF crept in. Just last month, I wrote a column about priorities as a patient with IPF and how mine have changed. Today, I’m reflecting on the things I think about differently and comparing my current perspective to my life before IPF.

  • What I post to my social media pages: Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have a feature that brings up posts you’ve shared to your account in previous years as “memories.” I never thought I’d use or like this feature, but since I was diagnosed with IPF, I enjoy looking back on things I did when my life was drastically different from how it is now. Not only do I enjoy looking back, I intentionally post things that will eventually become a memory for my loved ones if and when I succumb to this disease. There is a feature on some social media sites that lets you memorialize a page after someone has passed away. My friend who lost her husband had his Facebook page turned into a hardcover memorial book, which is a beautiful way to share his life and the things that were important to him. I think differently about what I post to social media, recognizing that someday it will likely tell the story of my life.
  • Using my phone in the presence of friends: This shouldn’t be something we have to intentionally think about, but sadly, it is. If you look around at people sharing a meal in a restaurant, you’ll often notice they’re glued to their phones and not enjoying the company of those they are with. I was often guilty of this prior to my diagnosis, but now I put my phone down when I am out with others. Quality time spent with friends and family is my priority, and I don’t feel as though I can offer that when my phone is out.
  • Looking ahead/anticipating next milestones: I think it is natural to anticipate upcoming milestones, like birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings. I used to have this mindset, but since my diagnosis of IPF, I’ve stopped anticipating these events and try harder to be present in the moment.
  • Accepting what I can’t change: I used to be really bothered by situations that were beyond my control and by the fact that I couldn’t change an outcome. Since being diagnosed with IPF, I’ve really learned a lesson in acceptance. I think differently about certain situations now, and work hard on just accepting things I can’t change. I also try harder to reframe situations from negative to positive, as this helps me cope. While I might not be able to change the outcome, I can control how I react to it, and this gives me a bit more power.

What things do you think about differently since your pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis? I’d love to hear from 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.


Susan Briercliffe avatar

Susan Briercliffe

Following the very recent death of my beloved aunt due to IPF, I now wish to unsubscribe from this website.
Could you please advise how to do this, as I do not see a link to such.
Many thanks

Brad Watson avatar

Brad Watson

Have you considered a transplant and are you on a transplant list?

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Brad,

Thank you so much for reading my columns and connecting via the comments. Yes, I will be considered for a transplant once my disease reaches a certain point/deterioration, per the process of my local transplant center. Thanks for inquiring, and I hope you're doing well.


Suzanne avatar


I believe my diagnosis was just before yours - late January of 2016. initially, I told only close friends and family members as I was still working and felt it could hamper what I was anticipating was the end of my career. Now I am more open with more distant friends and former co-workers. I have not yet "come out" on social media as I am not ready for the pity party that will likely ensue from well-meaning acquaintances.

Thoughts on this from others?

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts a bit on this topic. It sure is a tough one to navigate, isn't it? It took me awhile to be comfortable enough to share my story with friends and some extended family members. It was really hard, and a bit surreal: I felt like I was just regurgitating someone else's story, not mine. Slowly it became more real and I couldn't hide it once I was placed on oxygen periodically about 4 months after my diagnosis. Like you, I still rarely share my disease on social media and try to maintain a normalized life online as much as possible. Glad you are comfortable with being more open with your friends and co-workers; it does make things easier but it is a process to get there. I'd love to her from others on this topic too!



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