My Dad was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis in 1997 when he was just 59. At the time it was called Fibrosing Alveolitis and I – along with most other people except for the medics – had never heard of the disease.
In a strange way, because of that, we didn’t worry overmuch. This was pre-Google days so there wasn’t the avalanche of information that is available now on the Internet.
He was put on steroids and seemed instantly lots better – as you would – so we just thought it was a treatable lung disease. He was thrilled it wasn’t cancer as he’d been a heavy smoker until he was in his mid-forties. But I do remember mentioning it to a medical friend who was involved with drug research – looking back, his face clouded over momentarily before he said something positive.
He knew that Dad hadn’t got long. In fact, he died three years after diagnosis, on holiday with my Mum, his brother and two sisters and their partners at his holiday home in Mallorca.
He’d never taken them all on holiday with him before. They went for a month – did he know? If he did he never let on to us.
Dad was 62 when he died – a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, still missed on a daily basis by us all. He also happened to quite well known – the ‘other half’ of the hugely successful footballing partnership of Clough & Taylor – former European Cup winning managers of Nottingham Forest.
He had been a fit and healthy sportsman – a goalkeeper – and died while still in the prime of his life. This truly horrible disease robbed him of the ability to do the things he loved – walking, playing with his grandchildren, gardening – just the normal, everyday things that we all should be able to enjoy.
He took part in early research into the disease at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre and the team at Nottingham have made some amazing steps forward in understanding the disease, but, although drugs are now being developed, there is still no effective treatment and certainly no cure.
I am trying to do my bit by becoming a Trustee of Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis and I’m committed to raising the profile of the disease and to raising as much money as possible for research, in memory of my beloved Dad.