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June's story

Frank Picken passed away at the age of 67 in July 2012 from IPF.


A much loved Yorkshireman who brought fun and laughter to his family and friend’s lives, he left behind his wife June, daughter Claire and grandson Archie. The family first suspected something was wrong in late March 2012 when Frank began to experience shortness of breath and a loss of appetite which led him to lose a lot of weight.

Frank visited his doctor but it was not until May that he was referred to a specialist. The consultant, who saw Frank on the 23rd of May, was surprised he was still standing and breathing on his own. He was immediately diagnosed with acute interstitial pneumonitis and later IPF.

The consultant told the family that it was an extremely aggressive disease and that little could be done to cure it. No pulmonary rehabilitation was offered. June and her daughter Claire struggled to come to terms with what that meant: June says:

“We didn’t know anything about what the disease was or even what it meant for Frank. We had never heard of it or anything like it. Our consultant was very supportive and tried to put us in contact with a support nurse who could help us find more information. I called several times but always reached voicemail and never got a call back. I often wonder whether it was because they knew that nothing could be done”.

It was around this time that one of June’s close friends decided to visit BLF’s local Breathe Easy support group in Coventry. There, they were able to get some information on what Frank was suffering from and begin to understand what the family was facing.

From the time Frank was diagnosed until his passing in July, the family was at a loss due to the lack of awareness around the disease. This inspired the Picken’s decision to hold a fundraising event on the anniversary of Frank’s death in July 2013.

This was something that his daughter, Claire, was deeply passionate about and they raised an incredible £13,000. The family have been determined to raise awareness and stress the importance of research into IPF. June tells us

“A patient charter would definitely have helped us. What we went through was horrendous; we had no idea where to turn or what we were entitled to in terms of treatment or support. "Frank’s mother died of a lung related disease but our consultant told us it was impossible to say whether IPF was hereditary. Frank left behind our daughter and our grandson; we don’t know whether this is something the family might have to deal with again in the future. The not knowing is the scariest part. "That is why, more than ever, we believe that research is so important”.

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22 September 2013