Living with pulmonary fibrosis and finding hope

In January 2014, Liam Galvin lost his wife to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Phyl Galvin passed away two years after her diagnosis, and two years after her brother and sister also lost their fight against this rare disease. Almost 10 years later, Liam still spreads a message of hope.

As co-founder of the European Pulmonary Fibrosis Federation, Liam now dedicates his time to ensuring that patient organizations around Europe are equipped and able to support patients and their caregivers. This Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, we learned more about Liam’s experience and the need to recognize the symptoms.

About idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: It is estimated that around 3 million people around the world, or 0.0375 percent of the population, live with a form of IPF.

More information about pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is the medical term for your lungs “fibrosing”, or scarring.  When the lung tissue hardens, it becomes more difficult for the lungs to move when breathing.

Most of the time, doctors cannot say for sure. When the cause of pulmonary fibrosis is unknown, it is labelled “idiopathic”.  Some factors have been associated with higher risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis, such as: 

  • Occupational and environmental factors 

  • Radiation treatments 

  • Medications 

  • Medical conditions 

  • Is pulmonary fibrosis hereditary? 

In most cases, it’s not considered to be hereditary. However, the European Respiratory Society, estimates that around 20 percent of the patients have a genetic form of pulmonary fibrosis. If there is a family history of pulmonary fibrosis, there is an increased risk for other family members.