ABOUT THE LONG KAYAK FOR LUNGS
Following on from the successful Long walk for Lungs last year , Bill Van Nierop has raised the bar in his ongoing endeavours in supporting Lung Foundation Australia with their efforts in research and patient support with a remarkable new challenge for 2018, The Long Kayak for Lungs, 42 Days/2,200 Km’s Albury NSW to Murray Mouth in South Aust.
This 2,200 km initiative is all about furthering the awareness and understanding of lung diseases within the community, remove the stigma often linked to those with a lung disease, help change community attitudes to this insidious disease group and raise some much needed funds on route.
Funds raised via the Long Walk for Lungs were used to initiate a PHD Scholarship in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Research, support for Lung Foundation Patient Support groups, and contribute to the funding for a future respiratory nurse to support patients across Australia.
Bill was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2015, so understands only too well the challenges faced by those impacted by lung disease. IPF is a rare condition. In Australia, there are approximately 1,500 new IPF cases each year. There is no cure available for IPF yet. It is a progressive disease associated with scarring of the lung tissue that makes it difficult to breath. The five-year survival rate is as low as some of the more devastating cancers – approximately 20%.
The cause of IPF is unknown but certain environmental factors and exposures have been shown to increase the risk of getting IPF. Smoking is the best recognized and most accepted risk factor for IPF. Other environmental and occupation exposures such as exposure to metal dust, wood dust, coal dust, silica, stone dust, biologic dusts coming from hay dust or mold spores or other agricultural products, and occupations related to farming/livestock have also been shown to increase the risk for IPF.
With his diagnosis, Bill has become determined to work with Lung Foundation Australia to raise awareness of this devastating disease as well as symptoms of lung disease so that people can be diagnosed and treated earlier. Lung Foundation Australia is the only national charity dedicated to supporting anyone with a lung disease.
By becoming an advocate for Lung Foundation Australia, and speaking publicly about his personal situation, Bill hopes to create awareness in rural areas of the prevalence of chronic lung disease and to encourage those with symptoms to take them seriously.
Another motivation of Bill’s is to increase the amount of funding for research to improve outcomes for those affected by lung disease.
Bill was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in 2015, and found that there is a lack of community awareness and understanding around IPF and other lung diseases. This is despite over 15,000 Australians dying each year from lung disease, and at least 1,500 Australians being diagnosed with IPF. It was more disappointing to find 7 out of 10 lung research projects get virtually no funding at all. IPF has no cure and only one fifth of patients diagnosed survive 5 years. It is imperative we support IPF research projects and new technology to improve patient outcomes in the future.
Bill is determined to paddle the distance and raise vital research funding to support Australians living with lung diseases like IPF.
Bill lives in Brisbane, working for AGnVET Services. Bill is married to Lesley with 3 children and 5 grand kids, who Bill would like to be around to see grow up.