Have you heard of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)? It’s a nasty disease, taking the lives of thousands each year. It’s a progressive disease that robs a person of his or her ability to breathe when scarring, or fibrosis, thickens the lining of the lungs causing tissue to lose its ability to transport oxygen. This process is irreversible, making the disease fatal to most.
Kieth Wilgus, a Valparaiso resident, was diagnosed with IPF in May of 2009. His wife, Dorothy, started a local Pulmonary Fibrosis support group with the help of a respiratory therapist. The group’s purpose is to raise awareness of the deadly disease and to provide love and support for those in the community who have IPF or are caring for a loved one with the disease.
"The support group was started because I was handing out cookies and information on IPF in my neighborhood. A respiratory therapist had just moved in and saw my sign I had posted. I told her I have not found anybody that has IPF and my husband has it. We then got together and she decided she would educate the public about it," Dorothy said.
The group meets on the 2nd Friday of every month at Calvary Church at 1325 Evans Avenue in Valparaiso. Each meeting has educational speakers or planning on how awareness can be spread to the community about IPF.
There is no known causes, though researchers speculate that some cases are caused by environmental factors like chemotherapy or radiation, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no cure for IPF, but there are ways to manage the symptoms and treatments are being tested. Clinical trials are available to those diagnosed with IPF. Visit http://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/life-with-pf/clinical-trials for an up-to-date list of active investigational research.
For more information on the support group call (219) 252-5475. For more information about Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis visit http://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/.