8.20.24 - Appeal

Support PF Heroes

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My name is Tom Frey, and I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in November of 2016. For the past two years, I have been a volunteer ambassador and support group leader for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF). Prior to my involvement with the PFF, I was a New York City police detective and 9/11 first responder.

The morning of September 11, 2001 started like any other day. I quickly realized that it would be a day that no one would ever forget. I raced to Ground Zero to help with the rescue and recovery efforts. That day forever changed my life in more ways than one.

As a 9/11 first responder, I witnessed the horrors and destruction from the attack. I will always remember it as if a nuclear blast had detonated over Lower Manhattan. People were running and they were scared. There was smoke everywhere. White and grey dust covered the entire area and continued to fall like snow. I remember saying to my fellow officer, “This is not good. You know we are going to pay a price for this.” Fifteen years after that fateful day, my doctor diagnosed me with pulmonary fibrosis.

At the time, I did not understand the severity of the diagnosis. Many of my friends who served with me on that day became sick or passed away from cancer or other medical issues. Before my diagnosis, I thought I was immune because enough time had passed. But after a regular check-up with my doctor, I was told that I had cancer, specifically Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, due to my exposure at the World Trade Center and from working for months in the rubble. I was prescribed a chemotherapy drug to help combat my disease; however, the medicine reacted to the debris that was still in my lungs and created a fire in my lungs. This reaction caused my fibrosis.

Breathing while living with pulmonary fibrosis is like trying to breathe through a straw. Similar to many people who are diagnosed with the disease, I had never heard of pulmonary fibrosis. I tried to research the disease and didn’t find much information until I came across the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. This is the reality for all of us diagnosed with PF or IPF. The best place we can turn to for support and understanding of the disease is the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. The PFF is committed to providing us with the quality support that we need to continue living with this disease.

It is because of your generosity that the PFF can achieve this goal. Your gift today will help patients and families, like mine, affected by this terrible disease by funding educational programs and research that will one day lead to a cure.

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is the single organization completely focused on helping us fight this disease. This is a tough diagnosis but we have to keep fighting, keep moving, and keep working for a solution.

Your donation today will help fund the community resources and cutting-edge research that are crucial to people living with PF. That’s why your gift is so important. The PFF is the trusted resource to help all of us with the disease better navigate our journey.

I lived through the nightmare of 9/11 and another with PF. But I would do it again tomorrow to help save people. 

Only with your continued support will people no longer have to live with the fear of this relentless illness. I ask you again to make a donation to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. We need to do all that we can to save patients’ lives.


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