Rose McGowan Wants You to Know About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Education and Advocacy The actress and director speaks out about IPF, a rare and fatal lung disease whose devastating effects took her father far too soon.
Rose McGowan — known for memorable performances on the TV show Charmed, and movies including Scream, Grindhouse, and Conan the Barbarian, and whose directorial debut was nominated for a Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year — is now shining her star power on a deadly lung disease.
Mediaplanet: Can you share why you’re an advocate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)?
Rose McGowan: My father died of this lung disease. It’s a horrible, horrible disease for anyone to have and I’ve seen it cut a broader and broader swathe. There’s a girl who’s 25 who follows me on Twitter and she has it. It’s a death sentence. That’s not okay with me.
MP: What are the effects of this disease?
RM: Every time you breathe, you’re one step closer to your death. Your lungs scar, so the air that gives you life is killing you. On my father’s last X-rays, you couldn’t even see his lungs. It’s just all scar tissue. IPF manifests in a lot of different ways — shortness of breath, dizziness; you don’t get enough oxygen to your brain so your brain gets kind of funky. It’s a devastating, devastating disease.
MP: How can awareness help?
RM: Awareness helps people who have this disease feel less alone, because when you’re isolated in your bedroom on an oxygen machine you feel like you’re the only one. My dad was 58 when he got this and he was a vegetarian for 25 years, never smoked, hiked every day — a real lion of a man — and he was brought to his knees by this disease.
MP: What are you advocating for?
RM: I’m advocating for knowledge. I know it’s a cliché, but knowledge is power. If more people know about IPF, and more doctors know about it, then more people can get the help they need. A lot of people, including my dad, have the experience of being misdiagnosed. You have to keep fighting, fight for a diagnosis. The FDA just approved a new drug, which I’m so proud of being involved with — lobbying and talking to researchers on the front lines. I tried to reignite their passion by showing them pictures of my dad — showing them what they’re fighting for, what they’re developing this drug for.
MP: What’s next for Rose McGowan, the actress and director?
RM: I have three features lined up to direct, and a couple lined up for acting in the next three to four months, and I’m singing again. I sing on soundtracks. It’s a weird, great period directing my first film and turning in my Oscar paperwork for it. It’s been a great journey becoming fulfilled as an artist, and not just a commodity.