For Brennen and his family, research means hope.
In 2011, aged 55, Brian was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and sarcoidosis. The prognosis was devastating: his life expectancy would be three to five years.
In April 2016, five years after he was diagnosed, Brian passed away.
Son Brennen said his father was “loved by everyone.”
“It’s hard for me to talk about my dad because it really affected me a lot. He was a great man.
“He was a loving father and really good engineer. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with IPF and it’s a very rare lung disease where no one knows what happens, but your lungs decide to solidify.
“When he was first diagnosed, he didn’t tell me about it. Not because he was scared but he wanted me to focus on schooling – I was in Year 10. He put a lot of people before himself.”
Brennen said his father had found himself feeling exhausted and short of breath while on his regular rides but doctors “just presumed it was asthma or something similar”. By the time it was accurately diagnosed, it was “very late”.
“Coming from an engineering background, he always wanted to figure out how things worked. He really wanted to make sure that there was effort on research because he didn’t want anyone else getting IPF or a similar condition.”
In his memory and through the generosity of the Eaton family, the Lung Foundation Australia Brian Eaton IPF PhD Scholarship was founded. Brennen said his father donated to Lung Foundation Australia because he did not want anyone else to go through what he did.
“It’s kind of like his spirit is to help others. He wanted to donate so others can put time and effort into researching. If someone else has a similar lung disease, they can detect it earlier. Or once we find out a way to detect it, we can find a cure.”
For Brennen and his family, research means hope for other families, and other patients, of better treatments and even a cure.
“I hope research will help us improve our understanding on how the lungs work and how certain things happen.”
Research saves lives and gives hope for a cure.
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Meet the researcher
Dr Matthew Parker was awarded the Brian Eaton IPF PhD Scholarship. With support from the funding, he’s researching technologies to improve the accurate diagnosis of causes of interstitial lung disease, and to identify patients with an underlying auto-immune cause who could benefit from treatment. He hopes that research can improve outcomes for those with Pulmonary Fibrosis.