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Dorothy Simmons and her family experienced all of the various "highs and lows" of the disease process commonly known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Like most newly diagnosed IPF patients, Mrs. Simmons and her family were unfamiliar with the disease. With significant effort, they were able to learn pieces of information that suggested her lung suffered from the formation of scar tissue, limiting her ability to get oxygen into the blood. They learned the disease was progressive and often fatal. Treatments were limited and of unproven value.
They struggled to learn more about the personal side of IPF, including:
Despite the Simmons' educational background and technical sophistication with the Internet, Dorothy and her family found this information difficult to find.
As her disease progressed, Dorothy experienced the "lows" of progressive shortness of breath, limitations in her lifestyle, dependency, and at times, depression. This was countered by the "highs" of potential new drug therapies, recovery from a bout of pneumonia, and travel with her family. But the greatest "high" came from the unfailing support of her family and, in particular, her husband.
Richard P. Simmons' generous gift allowed UPMC to start the Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease. The center is dedicated to the hope that compassionate care, diligent training of medical professionals, and dedicated exploration of ILD could provide a longer, healthier life for people with IPF — and perhaps, some day, a cure.
Dorothy Simmons survived IPF for five years. She is remembered: