September marks Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, presented by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) to spread the word about pulmonary fibrosis (PF), a progressive, incurable lung disease with different causes affecting more than 200,000 people in the US. While more than 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, awareness of PF symptoms, which include shortness of breath, fatigue and a dry, hacking cough, remains very low for a vast majority (86%) of Americans, according to the PFF.
“Our research shows a clear need to improve understanding of pulmonary fibrosis,” said William Schmidt, president and CEO of the PFF. “Throughout the month of September, we will provide education about this unrecognized disease to help drive earlier diagnoses, advocate for needed research and ultimately find a cure.”
As part of the 30-day campaign in September, the PFF will celebrate a diverse group of #PFHeroes living with PF who are advocating for awareness of this devastating disease. Included are:
- Tom Frey – A World Trade Center first responder who contracted PF following his 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero nearly 20 years ago.
- Fred Schick – An avid swimmer, who had symptoms for nearly three years before being diagnosed and now strongly encourages others to advocate for their health and talk to their doctors.
- Melissa Wheeler – A competitive triathlete, who despite her life-threatening diagnosis, still completes half marathons with an oxygen tank by her side.
Throughout September, prominent buildings across the country will light up blue for Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month. On social media, the PFF will share “30 Facts in 30 Days” to educate the public about the disease and will post “Portraits of PF,” a series that showcases stories from patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.
Supporters can wear blue, take a selfie and use the hashtag #BlueUp4PF, or download custom profile photos, timeline images and social content, to spread the word even further. The PFF also will hold its annual PFF Walk—which is going virtual this year—to raise funds for crucial research and programs.