This year’s PFF Summit is a great opportunity to connect
For this columnist, the annual summit is a chance to learn, be inspired, and reconnect
When I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in January 2017, I began to tackle the steep learning curve almost immediately. I may never reach the summit, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up. There is always something to learn, and I acquire new knowledge on a regular basis.
In November, I will be attending the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) Summit in Orlando, Florida. I attended my first in-person summit in 2019, and it was inspiring. I was surrounded by people like me — people who knew this disease. They included new patients, transplant recipients, caregivers, friends, family, medical professionals, and members of the PFF Care Center Network. I was among my people!
My first PFF Summit experience
The 2019 summit was held in San Antonio, Texas. When my wife, Susan, and I arrived at the hotel, the conference hadn’t yet started. After checking in and enjoying lunch at the hotel, we set off in search of the registration desk for the event. As we descended the escalator to the conference center, there was a distinct buzz. Old friends, new acquaintances, and PFF staff energized the space as they began to gather. That energy continued for the duration of the summit.
The agenda offered something for every member of the pulmonary fibrosis community. In 2019, I hadn’t yet received my bilateral lung transplant. Susan and I attended general sessions and the keynote speaker session together. Then, Susan focused on sessions intended for caregivers while I sought out sessions on patient education.
One session I attended focused on emergency preparation and specifically addressed the dangers of wildfires for PF patients. This came in handy when the mid-Atlantic was cloaked in Canadian wildfire smoke earlier this summer.
Susan and I met so many wonderful people at the 2019 PFF Summit. Sadly, some of them have passed, but without the summit, they would never have become a part of our lives. Others remain our friends today.
The 2023 summit
Normally, the PFF Summit takes place every other year. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 event was conducted virtually. This year, it returns to being in-person. I am excited, and I don’t say that lightly. The agenda looks great. The venue looks amazing. Did I mention it will be an in-person event?
I will finally have the chance to meet people I’ve known virtually for years. This was also true in 2019, but on a smaller scale. PFF Ambassadors I’ve worked with virtually since joining the Ambassador program in 2020, community members I’ve met in virtual support groups, and readers of Pulmonary Fibrosis News will all be in attendance this November.
Will you be there?
Look at the agenda and highlight the sessions you find interesting. Review the list of speakers. This will be the first summit for Franck Rahaghi, the PFF’s new president, CEO, and chief medical officer, and this is a great opportunity for us to meet him. Look for ways to get involved and become a better advocate for the PF community. If you’ve never attended a PF poster session, prepare to wander through the seemingly endless aisles of posters displaying important PF-related research. You can even ask the principal researchers questions.
I wanted to share this with you now to give you time to plan to attend. Meet the people in your PF community. You will discover that our common bond is what makes us so special. You will make friends for life; I know I did. Look for me. I’d love to meet you.
This year, I will be attending as a lung transplant recipient. Attending the PFF Summit is another way I can make every breath count.
Let me know in the comments if you will be attending this year’s summit.
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.