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Losing my mum to IPF

After Stephen’s mum died from IPF, he knew he wanted to do something big to honour her.

Stephen's mum in the garden - British Lung Foundation
Stephen's mum loved the sun and spending time in the garden

My mum was the kindest, most caring, loving woman you could meet. She loved swimming, running, gardening and just generally keeping active. She ran marathons with my dad, and she built our garden up from scratch: in 1994 it was bare, and we now have huge conifers all around the perimeter.

I first noticed mum’s breathing problems in 2010. I’d taken her on holiday to Lanzarote - I was only 15 at the time but used the little savings I had to pay for it!

The beach was only a 5-minute walk away, but mum got really breathless and struggled to get there. She put it down to her fitness levels not being as good as they were, as she was carrying a bit of weight at that time.

I tried to build up her fitness

I always pushed her to start training again and to try to build her fitness levels back to what they were. For Christmas 2014, I bought her some gym clothes, shoes and a few bits of equipment.

We went for a brisk walk together and mum struggled badly. I had thought it was her fitness levels, but I realised it was probably more than that. She’d been to the doctors over the years, but they either told her she had a chest infection or that they didn’t know what was wrong. In September 2015, she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Mum’s life became limited. She relied on oxygen therapy, and the medication she was on had a dramatic impact on her. Every night I had to carry mum up the stairs, but it got to the point where I couldn’t even do that: moving her too much made her out of breath as she had so little oxygen in her body. It was so scary for her being so out of breath every day.

After mum was diagnosed, she couldn’t work. As she was always sat in the house, she kept a diary. It’s so sad reading how scared she was and how she felt during the day.

Stephen and his family on Christmas Day - British Lung Foundation
Christmas Day, 2014

Mum took a turn for the worse

In late December 2017, mum had an appointment at the hospital. The night before we were all sat in the living room with the fire on full. She had 2 dressing gowns on but still felt freezing cold. 

The next day she went into hospital, but her heart rate was too high to start the treatment the doctors had planned. They tried to regulate her heart with several different medications.

When I got to the hospital later that day mum was so happy to see me. She was making jokes with the nurses about the socks she’d bought me for Christmas just a couple of days earlier, which also happened to be her birthday.

There was a point when the colour came back into her face, and I thought to myself: she’s going to be OK. I could see in her eyes she thought it too. She told me she couldn’t wait to go home, what food she wanted and that she loved me. I spoke to her normally, so she’d be relaxed. I remember making her smile.

Then she took a turn and started breathing really heavily. The doctors said she wasn’t going to make it. She passed away in my arms in the early hours of 28 December 2017.

Honouring my mum by raising awareness of IPF

Stephen and his mum on a drive

I knew I wanted to do something big to honour her. I’ve always loved boxing, and so I'm putting on a charity boxing event in her memory. Mum always supported me and was made up that her son was doing something he loved.

I’ve got high hopes for this event: I’ve got so much passion to make it a huge success. I want to make Ultimate White Collar Boxing a national event around the country to raise as much money as possible for the British Lung Foundation. 

From speaking to other people, hardly anyone has heard of IPF. I know first-hand how debilitating it is, and I want to do as much as I can to stop other people go through what we have.

My mum was literally my best mate, and I want to do anything I can to raise awareness of IPF and as much money as possible to help, one day, to cure it.

This event is kindly organised by Stephen to raise money for the British Lung Foundation. British Lung Foundation staff have offered support and advice in organising the event, but the charity is not responsible for the event itself. Any enquiries or questions about the event should be directed to the event organiser.

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24 February 2020