The strength of the human spirit was on full display this month as terminally ill Evans Wilson finished a marathon in support of pulmonary fibrosis, the very disease that is killing him. The 63-year-old managed to finish the marathon in 10 hours and 55 minutes, walking the entire distance with his oxygen tank.
Wilson beat his goal of finishing the marathon in 14 hours by over two hours. Wilson was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis back when he was 57 years old. Because of the fact that the scarring of the lungs caused by pulmonary fibrosis can be the result of a number of other problems, from autoimmune diseases to genetic reasons, it took two years for doctors to diagnose him properly.
Symptoms first began when Wilson walked up a single hill one day only to find himself out of breath. After several similar instances occurred, doctors discovered that he had pulmonary hypertension, which is when high blood pressure in the lungs is caused by the heart working more than it should – a sign that it could be damaged. This initial diagnosis eventually led to doctors discovering the scarring in his lungs.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a terminal condition that most people will only live three years with. It’s a condition that is irreversible. Wilson has survived for five years so far. Although the number of people living with pulmonary fibrosis is unknown, a study from a decade ago used health insurance data to estimate that roughly 42 out of every 100,000 Americans may have pulmonary fibrosis. According to estimates by the American Association of Respiratory Care, around 40,000 Americans may be dying every year due to the illness.
Wilson decided to run the marathon to help raise money for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. He hopes that the attention and money will help result in more medications to help treat the disease. He was given an hour and 15 minute head start after being cleared to participate in the marathon despite his condition. To keep up with the latest health care news, be sure to visit The Benefits Store.
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