A Thousand Words About NTM

A collaboration with patients

A Thousand Words About NTM is an initiative designed to help illuminate the suffering of people living with nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease. We paired NTM patients with artists or animators from around the world. Our goal was to create one-of-a-kind original artwork and animations to help patients communicate what they’ve often struggled to put into words—the long, difficult journey to an NTM diagnosis.

BETSY’S A Thousand
Searching for

Mother. Wife. Employee. Betsy lived a normal life until an unknown illness disrupted it. Her life became consumed with doctor’s appointments, tests, medications, and coughing—all without an answer. See how difficult it was for Betsy to finally get an NTM lung disease diagnosis.

The Journey

After being diagnosed with NTM lung disease, Betsy’s journey was a series of ups and downs. Through life changes and a surgery, she continued to have hope and has remained NTM negative for several years. Listen to her advice on how she continues to find the balance between career and family.

See the impact of NTM on 3 people living with the disease


Barbara was a hiker and traveler, always on the go. Her first symptom of NTM lung disease was a serious cough that stopped her from leaving the house. The cough was so violent she broke 2 ribs.

When Barbara was diagnosed with NTM lung disease after 2 years of coughing, she felt relief. She began educating herself about the disease and made some important changes to her life, including beginning treatment.

The search for A

Learn how Barbara’s quest for answers, which took her more than 15 different doctors and over 2 years, finally paid off.

Managing life
 with NTM

Find out how Barbara overcame the obstacles of NTM and hear her advice for others who may have the disease.


Barbara’s long and frustrating misdiagnosis took her from doctor to doctor with no one having the right expertise to help. Watch “Unbreakable,” an animation inspired by Barbara’s story.


Beth moved out West to enjoy the great outdoors. She was living her dream as a successful spokesperson and nature enthusiast. But she soon developed a debilitating cough that interrupted both her personal and professional life.

When Beth first learned she had NTM lung disease, she felt frightened and alone. But she made some important lifestyle changes, started treatment, and found a community of support.

Getting the right

Follow Beth’s journey and learn how she found the help she needed.

Finding treatment
 and support

See how connecting with people who have NTM brightened Beth’s experience.


Beth’s repetitive NTM symptoms made her feel trapped in an endless cycle of despair that took a toll on her personal and professional life. Watch “Trapped,” an animation inspired by Beth’s story.


Debbie knew something was wrong when her coughing started to consume her life. With symptoms hard to ignore, Debbie found herself self-conscious and angry. After 15 years of symptoms, she was finally diagnosed with NTM lung disease.

Debbie’s attitude toward her NTM lung disease diagnosis changed her outlook on life. She knew that being her own advocate, asking the right questions, and staying true to her beliefs would pay off.

The signs and

Listen to how Debbie found hope when she found the answer for her symptoms.

A future with NTM

See what Debbie has to say about the progress she's made.


Debbie’s undiagnosed NTM symptoms made her feel isolated and alone, driving away her friends and family. Watch “Isolation,” an animation inspired by Debbie’s story.