Meet Adam Faatz
On December 18, 2021, I hiked one of the most dangerous mountains in the northeastern United States. With sustained hurricane-force winds, arctic winter conditions, and alpine-like ice formations, the grueling 33-mile hike to the summit of Mount Marcy in New York was simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. On that day, I reached the top of New York’s highest mountain while living with pulmonary fibrosis (PF), and I did it to raise awareness for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF).
My name is Adam Faatz and I am 34 years old. I live in Highland Lakes, New Jersey. In October 2006, I enlisted in the Army and after 22 weeks of boot camp, my unit deployed to Iraq. A month into my enlistment, I began suffering from extreme chest and rib pain which made it difficult to breathe. To help treat my pain, I was prescribed a quick-acting steroid and other standard treatments. I did my best to ignore my health problems. I was not going to let this pain interfere with my duty to my country.
Returning from Active Duty
Little did I know that this pain was the first indication that my lungs had a severe issue. I completed my tour of duty in 2010. However, the pain in my chest and my shortness of breath became unbearable. Because of my constant discomfort, I finally saw a pulmonologist. He sent me for a CT scan, and the results were shocking. I had over 17 nodules in my left lung, with some measuring 13mm, or about the size of a marble.
For the following years, I did my best to live as normal of a life as I could. On Veterans Day 2018, I finally underwent surgery on my lungs. During the procedure, my doctors discovered that my entire left lower lobe and part of the upper lobe were no longer functioning and were completely fibrotic. Because of this, that section of my lung was surgically resected and no healthy tissue could be found.
My Diagnosis and Partnering with the PFF
After surgery, my doctors informed me that I had pulmonary fibrosis. Like so many others who receive this diagnosis, I was numb. I had never heard of this disease, and I had to quickly learn what my journey with pulmonary fibrosis would mean. That is when I turned to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. I learned that pulmonary fibrosis is a group of complex and debilitating diseases that cause progressive scarring of the lungs. Over 250,000 Americans are affected by pulmonary fibrosis, and 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually.
The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is committed to helping individuals who are living with pulmonary fibrosis, like myself. The PFF provides unequaled support, educational resources, and research funding to help patients, caregivers, family members, lung transplant recipients, and health care providers. I am partnering with the PFF to raise $75,000 this spring to help the more than 250,000 Americans living with the disease. The Foundation can only help our community with generous support from donors such as yourself. Your gift today will provide the PFF with the funds needed to achieve this goal.
After receiving my diagnosis, my life’s passion quickly transformed into advocacy for PF. I strive to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis. This drive is what led me to Mount Marcy in New York. I chose this mountain because it is the highest peak in New York and is very difficult for even a healthy individual to hike — making it nearly impossible for someone living with pulmonary fibrosis. For three years I had been thinking about hiking Mount Marcy because of its reputation of being a dangerous and difficult hike. With my new diagnosis, I knew now was the time for me to step up to the challenge. I wanted to prove that those living with pulmonary fibrosis can still be resilient even when living with a debilitating illness. At this moment, I want to seek adventure and thrills for as long as I can. And I’m doing it for all of us in the PF community.
Hiking for A Cure
To reach my goal, I partnered with a friend who is an avid hiker. For three months, we trained together. I pushed myself to walk two miles each day, work out at my local gym for an hour each day and do 200 squats, pushups, and sit-ups every week. This training was grueling; however, I knew I needed to push myself if I was going to achieve my goal.
I'll never forget taking that first step on December 18, 2021. The herculean feat took nine grueling hours. But I summited New York’s highest mountain with a sense of renewed joy flowing through me. And I did it while living with pulmonary fibrosis.
With your support, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation can achieve its goal. Your gift today will fund research that will one day find a cure for this deadly disease. While there is still significant work to be done, important advances are underway in the fight against pulmonary fibrosis. Your generosity allows the PFF to expand essential efforts for the PF community. Please consider making your donation today.