A shocking diagnosis does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone. Diana Cox – a doctor herself – tackled her condition by finding hope in research.
In 2012, Diana (Di) was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a severe and progressive disease that causes irreversible damage to the lungs. Little is known about the incidence or prevalence of the disease in Australia.
It was about a year prior that Di noticed unusual shortness of breath while walking up a steep hill during a round of golf – one of her greatest passions for the last 20 years.
As a General Practitioner, she had witnessed countless people receive ‘unfair’ diagnoses, yet her own still came as a shock.
“My initial response was disbelief. I am a strong believer in preventative medicine and tried to encourage all my patients to exercise and eat sensibly – and I practice what I preached,” Di said.
“There was nothing that could be done to treat the disease. I knew it would eventually impact on the things I enjoyed and planned to do in my retirement. I decided, however, I was definitely not going to give up.”
From a young age, Di was aware of the importance of good research. Her father was also a doctor and some of his research revolutionised his field of medicine.
“In my fifty years in medicine I have been inspired by many amazing developments which are a result of research. These developments have changed the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions, saving lives and making life more comfortable for many people.”
Through Di’s generous support, the Lung Foundation Australia / Diana Cox PhD Scholarship in IPF Research was founded. This award will support a PhD student in their research to increase clinical knowledge about the incidence, prevalence or progression of the disease.
In the next decade I am really hopeful that research into new drugs will result in a treatment that will prevent further fibrosis or even reverse it.
“It was an easy decision to make a gift to Lung Foundation Australia and it makes me feel, in a small way, as if I’m involved in IPF research and that I may see results of that research. It probably won’t help me, but it will help other people in the future.”
While IPF is slowing her down and retirement plans look different, Di still enjoys playing golf twice a week with the help of a trusty golf cart, pilates, gentle bushwalks, riding her e-bike, camper trailer holidays, painting and reading.
“I continue to be active, but now it’s really important I tailor activities to suit what I can achieve, because quality of life, and living with your condition, is still living.”
For almost 30 years, Lung Foundation Australia has been funding life-changing research and support services, and advocating for equitable and affordable access to treatment and care.
In 2018, Lung Foundation Australia raised and invested $787,600 into our collaborative research awards program, funding 24 research awards.