Star raises awareness for pulmonary fibrosis


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Some of the leading lung diseases include asthma, COPD, and lung cancer, but there’s another one that can be deadly serious. It’s called pulmonary fibrosis, which affects roughly 50,000 people each year.

Pulmonary fibrosis is blamed for the deaths of acclaimed singer and actor Robert Goulet and renowned author Peter Benchley. The widow of a renowned radio newsman has made it her personal mission to raise awareness and find a cure.

Actress and comedienne Julie Halston’s career spans nearly four decades. But she’s made a name for herself as more than an entertainer.

“It’s a very progressive disease. It’s chronic. There is no known cure,” said Halston.

Halston has become a staunch advocate of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Pulmonary Fibrosis or PF for short causes scarring of the lungs. Her husband, iconic radio newsman Ralph Howard, was diagnosed with PF and required a lung transplant in 2010.

“And he was able to live an extra eight years which we’re very grateful for. It was quite a miracle but ultimately he did succumb to the disease,” said Halston.

PF claims roughly 40,000 lives each year. Symptoms of PF include fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath, and swollen limbs and joints.

“People need to know about it. They need to know that they can go and get an MRI or a CT scan, get it diagnosed correctly and there is hope on the horizon,” explained Halston.

Halston has dedicated herself to raising funds and awareness.

Her hard work and advocacy with Broadway Belts for PFF have helped raise more than $2 million to help patients with PF and their caregivers. It’s also earned her the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award which is given to a member of the theatre community for substantial volunteered time and effort toward a humanitarian, social service, or charitable organization.

“Let’s face it. Every performer wants to get a Tony Award and put it in their cabinet but to get it for something that I’m also equally passionate about is such a blending of my two great missions: to promote live theater and also to promote the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation,” said Halston.

Halston will receive her Isabelle Stevenson Tony award on September 26th, the day after the 2021 Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation walk.

For more information on understanding pulmonary fibrosis, you can visit the pulmonary fibrosis website.

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