Kim Verwaayen: I Am Not Done

How West Park Helped Kim Learn How to Breathe Again

Kim Verwaayen suffered from coughing fits so severe they often left her incapacitated. For the Women’s Studies professor, teaching, even socializing, seemed impossible. She was always tired and her illness caused her great anxiety.

“I used to be a vibrant, energetic and life-loving person,” she says. “Before I came to West Park I would say I would give almost anything to get even a little bit of that person back.”

In 2017, when she was finally diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and just 54 per cent lung function, she got a lifesaving referral to West Park’s inpatient respiratory rehabilitation service.

She remembers when she arrived from London. “My father drove me in, and as we circled around campus to find parking, we saw these ‘Get Your Life Back’ signs, and when we saw the third one, we looked at each other and said out loud, ‘Wouldn’t that be amazing’ and cried together.”

West Park taught Kim how to manage her condition, which has been the key to her recovery.  “Learning how to breathe, strengthen our muscles is simple but genius,” says Kim.

“For the first time I feel excited and hopeful,” she says. “West Park is a miracle place. I wish everyone who is ill could experience what happens at West Park.”

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