Elburn resident competes in Chicago Triathlon to honor her mom

By on August 17, 2012

Photo: Elburn resident Shawn King (left) will run in the Chicago Triathlon later this month to support the Lung Power Team, and her mother, Judy McDonald (right), will serve as the inspiration. Courtesy Photo

King seeks donations for fundraising run
Elburn—When Shawn King accompanied her mom to her most recent doctor’s appointment, she actually saw the doctor smile about what he had to share.

“This isn’t something I get to tell a lot of my patients with pulmonary fibrosis,” he said, “but your scarring has stopped,” he said.

Judy McDonald’s story—and good news—is unique. For most people with pulmonary fibrosis, the cause is unknown, but the disease causes irreversible scarring in the lungs, and there are no approved treatment options or cures. The best available option is a lung transplant.

In Judy’s case, doctors diagnosed her with pulmonary fibrosis in January and believe she got the disease as a side effect of medicine she was prescribed. Fortunately, if her pulmonary fibrosis has stopped progressing, it could be life-saving. But, she still struggles with the damage it’s already caused to her lungs. On a day-to-day basis, pulmonary fibrosis deteriorates a person’s lung capacity so much that it makes it hard to do everyday tasks, such as cleaning or walking to the mailbox. King has noticed a change in her mother’s capabilities.

“We were recently on a family vacation in Michigan, and there were about 100 steps down to the beach,” King said. “Last year, my mom would have just taken the steps, but this year she didn’t even want to try because she knew she didn’t have the lung capacity.”

To honor her mother and her fight to regain her endurance, King and her husband signed up to compete in the Chicago Triathlon on Sunday, Aug. 26. They are participating as part of the Lung Power Team, a group of athletes supporting the Respiratory Health Association. Lung Power Team athletes participate in races nationwide, and many are personally affected by lung disease. Each Lung Power Team member raises funds that support Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs.

When King participates in the triathlon at the end of August, she will be cheered on by her family and pushed to finish because she knows what’s waiting for her. She said the first person she’ll look for when she crosses the finish line is her mom.

“My mom is everything in the world to me; she’s my best friend,” King said. “I know if this would have happened to one of her kids, she would have stayed strong, so I’m doing this for her. I’m using working out and exercising as my outlet to be strong, and the Lung Power Team is helping me motivate myself to get through this and bring awareness to the disease.”

King said that with the support of her family, she’s been able to train and has surpassed her $500 personal fundraising goal. For more information on the Lung Power Team or to support King’s efforts, visit www.lungchicago.org/shawnking.

Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago has been a local public health leader since 1906. Today, the association addresses asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tobacco control and air quality with a comprehensive approach involving research, education and advocacy activities. For more information, visit www.lungchicago.org.