It takes two: Battling a devastating lung disease

Posted: November 13, 2017 | Word Count: 1,085
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(BPT) – Theta Rone and her husband James have been together, side-by-side, through it all – from the grade school classroom to the birth of their two children. They’re the perfect example of “it takes two” even when the going gets tough.

In 2014, the couple was just settling down to enjoy their retirement in Tennessee, when they received some daunting news: Theta had leukemia. The prospects of recovery were pretty good, but Theta would have to undergo a series of sometimes difficult treatments. It wouldn’t be easy, but knowing James would be there by her side made it all seem doable.

The two teamed up, determined to beat Theta’s cancer. Just when they thought the worst was behind them, a routine chest x-ray showed an abnormality in James’ lungs.

“I couldn’t imagine James and I being faced with a more difficult challenge than fighting leukemia, but our strength was tested again,” said Theta.

After a follow-up CT scan, James was diagnosed with the rare and life-threatening lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. James initially thought IPF was another “old age” problem. But after speaking to the doctor and doing their own research, he and Theta realized the seriousness of his diagnosis and knew they’d have to team up once again to take action.

“It was just like what we had faced before together with my illness, only this time the roles were reversed,” Theta said. “I was determined to be the loving, devoted caretaker to James that he had been to me.”

IPF causes permanent scarring of the lungs and, although it is considered a “rare” disease, approximately 50,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease each year. That’s enough to fill a baseball stadium. Still, awareness of the disease is low. Worse still, the symptoms of IPF, which include breathlessness and a dry persistent cough, are similar to other more common and recognizable respiratory illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or asthma – and, for that reason, the road to an accurate diagnosis and actionable answers can be long (1-2 years) and frustrating.

James was lucky to have a doctor who knew that there are two FDA-approved medications for the treatment of IPF that have been proven effective in helping to delay the progression of the disease. The twosome worked together with James’ doctor to develop a treatment plan that was right for him, and eventually he started taking the medication Ofev® (nintedanib).

Now the two devote their time to Boehringer Ingelheim’s OPEN DOORS™ program, a program that specializes in providing personalized support for those prescribed Ofev for the treatment of IPF and their loved ones. The couple is thankful to have received information, guidance and financial assistance through OPEN DOORS themselves and are determined to provide hope and support to others impacted by this rare lung disease in return.

James and Theta remain side-by-side, determined to make the most of what life has to offer. As Theta says, “Just like everything else in life, we’ll meet it together with faith and hope, always remembering to experience joy in every moment.”

To learn more about Ofev® or the OPEN DOORS™ patient support program, visit www.Ofev.com.

What is Ofev®?

Ofev® is a prescription medication used to treat people with a lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). It is not known if Ofev® is safe and effective in children.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

What is the most important information I should know about Ofev (nintedanib)?

Ofev can cause harm, birth defects or death to an unborn baby. Women should not become pregnant while taking Ofev. Women who are able to become pregnant should have a pregnancy test before starting treatment and should use birth control during and for at least 3 months after your last dose. If you become pregnant while taking Ofev, tell your doctor right away.

What should I tell my doctor before using Ofev?

Before you take Ofev, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver problems
  • heart problems
  • a history of blood clots
  • a bleeding problem or a family history of a bleeding problem
  • had recent surgery in your stomach (abdominal) area
  • any other medical conditions.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Ofev passes into your breast milk. You should not breastfeed while taking Ofev.
  • are a smoker. You should stop smoking prior to taking Ofev and avoid smoking during treatment.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort.

What are the possible side effects of Ofev?

Ofev may cause serious side effects.

TELL YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY if you are experiencing any side effects, including:

  • Liver problems. Unexplained symptoms may include yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes (jaundice), dark or brown (tea colored) urine, pain on the upper right side of your stomach area (abdomen), bleeding or bruising more easily than normal or feeling tired. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to check how well your liver is working during your treatment with Ofev.
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may recommend that you drink fluids or take medicine to treat these side effects. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms, if they do not go away, or get worse and if you are taking over-the-counter laxatives, stool softeners, and other medicines or dietary supplements.
  • Heart attack. Symptoms of a heart problem may include chest pain or pressure, pain in your arms, back, neck or jaw, or shortness of breath.
  • Stroke. Symptoms of a stroke may include numbness or weakness on 1 side of your body, trouble talking, headache, or dizziness.
  • Bleeding problems. Ofev may increase your chances of having bleeding problems. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bleeding, bruising, or wounds that do not heal and/or if you are taking a blood thinner, including prescription blood thinners and over-the-counter aspirin.
  • Tear in your stomach or intestinal wall (perforation). Ofev may increase your chances of having a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall. Tell your doctor if you have pain or swelling in your stomach area.

The most common side effects of Ofev are diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, liver problems, decreased appetite, headache, weight loss, and high blood pressure.

These are not all the possible side effects of Ofev. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, visit Ofev.com or contact Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals at (1-800-542-6257)

For more information:

To learn more about OPEN DOORS patient support program, visit www.OFEV.com or call 1-866-OPENDOORS.

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