When lung disease picked Ron Flewett, it picked the wrong person.
That’s something he’s said before, and Ron will go on saying it for as long as he is able.
Realistically, that isn’t going to be for too long into the future.
Ron was diagnosed with IPF – or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – in 2014. By that stage, the scarring on his lungs meant he had lost 40 per cent of their capacity.
The average survival rate for IPF is little better than inoperable lung cancer, with half of those diagnosed dying within three years of their diagnosis.
Ron said: “When you are given a three to five year life expectancy – and at 53 I considered myself a young man – it certainly knocks you back.”
He and his wife Maxine not only had that devastating news to deal with, but when the Spalding couple started to look for support and information they discovered there was very little available.
As a result, Ron and Maxine have virtually devoted their lives since to raising awareness and funds and to supporting other people affected by the disease.
Nothing in their previous lives had prepared them for it, but the former salesman and foster parent have had to gain the confidence to speak in public. They have raised awareness about the disease by speaking to politicians, to pharmaceutical companies and on promotional videos for the British Lung Foundation and a drugs company .
Ron – a former all-round sportsman – has raised around £7,000 for the BLF since 2015 by participating in sporting events, spurred on by Claire Thomas of Padma Yoga Studio in Spalding, who has taught him breathing techniques.
Unfortunately, Ron paid a price for his exertions: at the test following the events he learned he had lost eight per cent lung capacity because he had over-done it.
There is a critical balance between lung capacity and the drugs given to help, so that’s something Ron and Maxine guard closely now. There is no cure, other than a double lung transplant, just as there is no known cause.
These days, Ron can walk a mile on the flat, but any incline starts his coughing, the first sign of his disease, along with breathlessness.
Maxine says: “We have had our nights of crying, especially as we hadn’t long met and got together.”
But Ron intercepts with: “You realise you have two options. You can either go negative and let it consume your life, or go positive and do something about it and that’s where BLF came in.
“It’s changed me as a person. Now, I am chairman of the support group and people phone me with their problems, and I am a trustee of a charity. My priorities have changed in life.”