September is Breathtember – Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, a campaign from Breathing Matters (part of a UCLH charity) that aims to raise awareness and work with patients to help find a cure and develop better treatments for interstitial lung diseases.
This year this fabulous campaign to raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis (PF) focuses on taking up a challenge!
But first – what exactly is PF?
It’s actually a description of a group of diseases that cause interstitial lung damage which result in fibrosis and loss of the elasticity of the lungs. It causes scar tissue to build up in your lungs – starting from the edges and moving into the centre – making them stiff and more difficult for you to breathe. Your lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream.
With well over 100 diseases falling into the category of interstitial lung diseases (ILD), PF is the most common of them. It’s a rare fatal respiratory disease for which there is no cure.
What causes PF to develop is unknown. People often only present to their doctor at the late stages of the disease with symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue and a persistent cough. It’s unfortunately common for misdiagnosis to occur as early lung changes are often not readily identifiable on chest X-ray and the symptoms can be vague. A CT scan or lung function test is much more accurate.
Whilst lung transplants are possible for those with PF, the reality is that many patients die whilst on the donor waiting list as lung donors are rare. So research into the disease and trying to fund a cure really is the best hope for sufferers of the disease. Fundraising is ever so important.
Breathing Matters have all the info you need on the Breathtember challenge – and it’s a great one! It’s all about taking on a daily challenge to get out of breath for the whole month and shouting out about it!
Try to be creative in your challenges – think of unusual ways you could get out of breath.
How about things like:
  • devise your own garden Olympics with activities in the garden and compete against the kids
  • sign up for a local 5k run
  • go for a nature walk with the kids – a great way to take in the delights of the changing colours of Autumn
  • walk along the Thames in London and see what’s happening in the Totally Thames festival
  • conquer your fear of heights! Visit Archbishop’s Park in Lambeth and try out the Zip Now zipwires… a 225-metre zip line – the biggest and fastest city line in the world!
  • Or try another height buster – do the walk across the iconic building Up over the O2
  • A great one for Harry Potter fans is a Harry Potter walking tour of London. There are some ones you can download yourself for free, or you can join a organised tour.
The world really is your oyster when it comes to ideas and activities. You can also donate to the Breathtember campaign here.
Just remember to share your experiences on social media every day and follow Breathing Matters on Twitter @BreathingMatter. Help raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis by tweeting your challenge every day including the term ‘#Breathtember’.
Let’s get #Breathtember trending!