IPF Strikes Again

Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) died today at his home after a long battle with chronic lung disease. He was 65.

His congressional passion was health care. Taking on insurance companies, he spent much of his political career pressing for a “patients’ bill of rights” aimed at giving consumers better access to care. My kinda guy, even though I may not have agreed with his stand on some other issues.

Diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in 1998, he underwent a lung transplant in 2004 but suffered recurring side effects due to the suppression of his immune system needed to prevent rejection of the organs. Eventually, cancer set in, which spread from his lungs to his liver. (Read full story here.)

I shudder whenever I read news like this; it’s a combination of rational fear, and irrational anger that despite advances in medical science over the years, this insipid disease continues to claim lives unchecked. While transplantation can indeed be lifesaving, it’s also an incredibly risky treatment of last resort. I have no doubt that in centuries to come, medical professionals will look back at the practice of hacking out and replacing major human organs as barbaric, much as Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy scorned highly-invasive 20th-century medicine as “medievalism” in the Star Trek series. But at the moment, it’s the only option we have when other treatments fail.

This news also makes me more determined than ever to fight and survive my IPF. I’m participating in cutting-edge clinical trial research, and have been relatively stable for almost two years now, so I still have hope.

I will beat this thing!

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