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Julie’s Perspective:

I’m a 35-year-old runner, gardener, yogi, teacher, wife, and mom.  I love reading young adult novels, exploring farmer’s markets, adventuring with my family and experimenting with new recipes.  I don’t have cystic fibrosis.  In fact, for more than half my life, I didn’t even know CF existed.  I had no idea the impact it would have on my life.  But then again, for more than half my life, I didn’t know Chad.

Chad, my hubby, my best friend, my person.  Chad is the reason I learned about CF.  Chad and I met in college.  He was the manager at the best college bar in the world and I happened to be working there.  Chad was the guy who put flowers in the cooler at work for me, the guy who always stuck around to talk and the guy who walked me home after a late shift.  Fast forward and Chad’s the guy who I fell in love with, the guy who proposed and the man I vowed to partner with for the rest of my life.

Like I mentioned, when we met in college, I didn’t know what CF was.  I now understand it, as best as a person who doesn’t live it, can understand it.  I have seen Chad in awesome health – able to hike in Montana and have the courage to whitewater raft.

I have also seen him in a really scary state – unable to walk across our kitchen without stopping and unsure if he could be the person he wanted to be because of anxiety and depression.  Together, we’ve navigated doctor’s appointments, clinic visits, transplant discussions, and IVF.  We’ve explained and tried to normalize aging with CF to friends, our parents, and most recently, to our boys.

Normalizing CF….that can be tricky.  It’s hard for others to understand that our day can’t work the way most families days work.  Chad needs time, both in the morning and night, for treatment.  And, as most in the CF community knows, I’m not talking a few extra minutes.  I’m talking 2-3 hours a day for treatment, plus time for meditation, exercise, extra rest, medication ordering, nose rinsing, nebulizer cleaning and more.  CF also means that Chad sometimes can’t keep pace with others or do all the activities the rest of the group does.  As the wife, I try to balance the pace of our kids or friends with Chad’s ability so that all feel like they are doing the right thing.  And, more recently as Chad becomes older and his health is harder to rebound, it’s hard to normalize the depression and anxiety that such a demanding disease brings.  But we do.  

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Somehow, we’ve made it so CF is at least for us, normal.  The boys help clean nebulizer cups, plug in Chad’s vest, and race down to the basement in the morning to be with him while he does treatment.  They know dad has CF, but also know that he’s ok.  In their eyes, and in mine, he’s a superhero just the way he is (maybe, he’s a superhero because of who he is).  They know Chad not as a CF patient but as a dad.  The dad who walks them into school every morning, who reads extra books at night, the dad who loves DC sports and the dad who builds the most incredible Lego creations they can imagine.

There are moments when being the support person and normalizing CF can be challenging.  When our older son asked Chad, out of the blue, why Chad has CF and he doesn’t, alerts sounded in my head.  I wanted our son to know that questions are good and that it was great to learn and try to understand cystic fibrosis, as best a 6-year-old can.  But I also didn’t want my answer about recessive and dominant genes to make Chad feel inferior.  This time, I didn’t hit a grand slam. I used “weaker” as another word for recessive to try to make things easier for our son to understand.  While supporting one, I hurt another.  The balance of feelings, learning, and doing can sometimes tip.  I apologized privately to Chad later, when our son could not hear.  I have learned it is to be important to keep trying and admit when I fall short.

The other night, our three-year-old was talking with Chad after they had finished reading books before bed.  Chad didn’t know I could hear, but our son was asking why Chad “plugs in and shakes.”  He was asking why Chad does his vest treatment.  Chad, without a beat, explained that he needs to shake up the mucus in his lungs so he can play better.  Chad explained that he has CF, but our son doesn’t, so our son doesn’t do the vest.  There were giggles next because our son said he likes that vest and likes to be with dad while he shakes.

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There are times when being a CF wife and full-time working mom is really, really hard.  There are days when the list feels endless and I become frustrated that Chad can’t help or join us playing because he’s doing treatment.  Most days I don’t feel like that though.  Most days, I am grateful that I get to partner and parent with a man who fights harder than any other person I know.  He fights to get to be with me and our children.  His devotion to us is shown with every treatment.  


The challenges CF brings have brought patience, empathy, and compassion to our family.  We purposefully and mindfully look with gratitude at the bright parts of life – riding bikes, backyard grilling, reading in bed and laughing.  We can’t change that Chad has CF.  We can, though, embrace each other, every day, and do our best to spread more love.

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“I am grateful that I get to partner and parent with a man who fights harder than any other person I know.  He fights to get to be with me and our children.  His devotion to us is shown with every treatment. ” -Julie

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Chad’s Perspective: 

Starting this blog post was a hard thing for me as putting this down on paper is not easy for me. When Dan asked if I would be willing to share something about CF to help promote Cystic Fibrosis awareness month I was all in but actually writing it was a whole different story. Where do I start? What do I want to share? Should I talk about the gift of CF, the challenges of CF, what life is like with CF, life with kids and CF? All questions that kept swirling in my mind so I thought I would just start and let it lead where it may.

I was diagnosed at the age of three and at that time my parents were told that I would most likely not live long enough to see my 12th birthday. Well 32 (almost 33 years) have passed since then and we are still here kicking at 35 as a college graduate, working full time, married to the most incredible woman I know and a father to two of the kindest and funniest little humans (I may be slightly biased but they are the best!).

From hospital stays, to missing school, to surgeries to today’s battles with depression and anxiety, the journey has not been without its struggles and its challenges. But with the struggles comes a true appreciation for the little moments and the little victories that happen every day is what amazes me. Growing up, I played sports constantly, never really thought about the future as honestly, I didn’t know what it was going to be. I didn’t think about the consequences. I mean, I managed a bar in a college town when people could still smoke indoors.  But, if I had not done that I would not have met Julie. Yes, did that have a negative impact on my health, in the long run, sure it did, but what would my life be now?  Most likely without Julie and my kiddos, the support system that focuses my fight and encourages me to keep fighting for every breath.

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Yes, it is a fight.  There are days when it hurts to walk up a flight of steps or you have to stop when walking from your car to the parking lot. There are moments when you are by yourself with your kids and you have a panic attack scraping ice off your car.  The panic is real because it is hard to breathe and so you have to ask them to get out of the car and come in the house so daddy can calm himself down.  And it’s hard to explain it to a 6 and a 3-year-old in a way that makes dad “normal” and keeps them feeling safe. The fight and the struggle are constant.  

It is not easy to remember which pills you take this month and which ones you take next month. It’s not easy to remember to order the meds far enough in advance that they can be processed and shipped so you don’t miss a day. It is not easy to say no to friends, your wife or your kids because you have to do treatments or you are just in so much pain that you need to sit or you simply don’t have the energy.

It is a struggle to come to grips as you watch your lung function fall for six months with no answer as to why or no sign of it stopping. It is a struggle to come to grips with the fact that a life-saving transplant could be the only thing that saves you and allows you to continue living a life that you had cherished for so long. It is painful to watch loved ones struggle to understand the what we are going through and to face the wrath of our anger or the sadness of depression of it when it all becomes too much to handle and our hard candy shell comes cracking apart.

But for all the struggles, the pain, and the constant fight to take a simple breath there is a hope, a love of life and immense strength that comes with CF. There is an ability to find the smallest of good and joy in a situation that to others would be so dark. There is an appreciation for that simple breath, the ability to let air fill the lungs that are so often taken for granted. It’s crazy to think that breathing can be taken for granted but stop and ask yourself when was the last time you really noticed your belly and chest rising as your lungs filled with air and stopped to wonder how incredible the act of breathing really is.

Having CF (and with the help of meditation) has allowed me to stop and take stock in the fact that I woke up and filled my lungs full with air (full being the relative term), to love the moments when the windows are down and the sunroof is open and the music’s too loud and I look crazy signing at the top of my lungs (usually to Mumford and Sons, Widespread Panic, maybe some Michael Jackson or anything else with a beat and deep bass). To cherish the moments in the early morning hours when I hear the stampede of little feet running down the stairs and across the living room through the kitchen and down the next set of stairs to the basement to say “good morning” and hang with dad (who is doing treatments) before breakfast and school.

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Some would say that “they have CF but CF does not have them,” I would say that yes I have CF and CF does have me, it helps defines who I am, it decides how I live my life and the decisions I make each and every day. But that is a good thing.  It has not stopped me from doing the things I have wanted to do or love the people that I love. I believe that in all of us with CF it creates a drive to outlast this disease as best we can and embrace the moments that make up each breath!

As I have sufficiently rambled my way through this (and I thank you for making it this far), I write all this on the page not looking for sympathy or empathy but to spread awareness into the struggles of cystic fibrosis (and all those it touches).  I hope I was able to highlight the incredible resilience, compassion, and strength of the CF Community. I will leave you a simple question, “What will you do today to make someone else smile?”

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“But for all the struggles, the pain, and the constant fight to take a simple breath there is a hope, a love of life and immense strength that comes with CF. There is an ability to find the smallest of good and joy in a situation that to others would be so dark.”  – Chad

A Point of View

May 22, 2017 — Leave a comment

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Perspective is the way we see things when we look at facts from a certain distance, it allows us to appreciate their true values.  These values can lead us to different illusions, giving us the ability to remove the blindfold that can overcome our lives at times.

The subtitle of my blog is “A Perspective of Another Life”, the main reason for starting my blog was to help educate those that didn’t know about Cystic Fibrosis and Transplantation. I wanted to show people that a “normal world” to some could be seen in a totally different perspective by another. It moves you to ponder,” what is normal”? What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.

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Since my 15-year lung transplant post, I’ve been in touch with a lot of CF’res and Transplanties sharing stories as well answering a lot of questions for those that are just entering the world of Cystic Fibrosis or Transplantation.  This has been a learning curve enlightening me that different kinds of CF mutations create different kinds of medical conditions and results. This knowledge has opened my eyes to just what Cystic Fibrosis is and how it can affect your life. It has shown me the importance of communicating and educating people, even family and friends who don’t always understand the consequences of what living with CF is like.

This gave me the idea to ask a few Cfer’s and CF Caregivers if they would be willing to write something they felt important or could share a little part of their story and show how Cystic Fibrosis has affected their life.  This research has allowed me to gain a new perspective for my readers, giving them the ability to see how important it can be to spread the awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. Let the reader enter the world of those affected by Cystic Fibrosis, what better time than during May, Cystic Fibrosis awareness month. It is my goal to end the month’s awareness off with readers not only learning new facts, but also gaining insight by sharing personal experience stories.

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The stories are heartfelt some deal directly with CF while others cross paths into transplantation, the importance of a good support system including friends, family and significant others in our lives.  The stories touch on depression and anxiety and the daily challenges that living with Cystic Fibrosis present. 

I hope these different perspectives help you as the reader realize that we do not see things as they are; we see things as we are. By entering our world for a moment, stepping into our shoes you might understand the challenges that we face everyday living with an incurable disease.

Learning is about seeing things from a different perspective. I like to think my role in life is to help people improve their vision by removing their rose-colored glasses it is then that reality becomes an education.

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CAN YOU SEE ME NOW

May 16, 2017 — 1 Comment

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You didn’t cause it. You can’t cure it. You can’t avoid it. You can’t ignore it. You can’t control it. You try to manage it while concealing it from the “normal world”.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is often called the invisible disease. Invisible illnesses are conditions patients have that are not obvious when looking at them. People with invisible illnesses face a lot of prejudices. Accused of faking, lying or exaggerating they are often misunderstood.

“Just because you cannot see a person’s illness doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Someone may look “OK” when they really are not. Invisible illnesses often have no cure with patients having to take medication for the rest of their lives to help control and manage their symptoms.”

Take a look at me for instance, coming from an outsider’s point of view. If you saw me walking down the street:

He was walking with a group of friends when I spied him. I noticed him immediately because of his short stature. At first, I thought what is this young boy doing hanging out with these older kids. The closer he came I realized that he wasn’t as young as I thought, in fact, he was mature and probably the same age as his friends.

They seemed very comfortable with one another laughing and joking as they sauntered along. He had a presence and seemed to have no problems keeping his stride even though his legs were much shorter than his friends. Little did I know at the time that he was a warrior; born with cystic fibrosis he challenged life on many levels.

Other than his size I had no idea that he was struggling just to breathe. Living with an invisible disease you quickly learn how to compensate. No one wants their disease to own them. As I watched them disappear down the road an old lyric came to mind.

You can’t judge one by looking at the other.

You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.

Oh can’t you see, oh well you misjudged me.

I look like a boy, but I have C.F. undercover.

You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.

There’s a story behind every person, a reason why they are the way they are. Think about that before you judge someone. There have been times that people have doubted me when I was not well. I’ve been told, “you look alright to me, what’s wrong with you? What’s your problem?” What they don’t understand is that they’ve got it all backward; I am not well, rather I am faking being well.

Before my lung transplant, I frequently had chronic chest pain caused by excessive coughing. Coughing was my body’s natural mechanism to try and rid my clogged lungs and airways of thick sticky mucus. Coughing helped to relieve the tightness living inside my chest. At times it felt like as if a slippery serpent was wrapping its scaly body around my lungs, strangulating and constricting my breaths. The wheezing that would escape from my lungs would be a hiss of a rattle.

The cough woke a fiery dragon, burning the lining of my lungs. If that wasn’t enough to suffer through, my stomach muscles would feel like a punching bag. The sheer pressure of coughing weighted my shoulders down and caused a deep stabbing ache between my shoulder blades. This is how I would start my day, in constant pain. I hid in the pain, showing no outward signs of the torture I was battling. The physical pain was hardwired into my system; I simply faked it pretending to be well all the time.

I appear as I want you to see me. I paint on my ‘I’m OK’ face every morning before my day and walk around with a smile, but the truth is that I am in chronic pain, always struggling, but you will never see that because I do not want to appear in that light. You may believe I am faking being sick, but I am actually faking being well, and people need to not be as quick to judge.

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The only person who could detect I was getting an infection was my Mom. She could see through my smoke screen. She by-passed the “I am fine mom, don’t worry” or “No, we don’t need to waste our time going into clinic the team isn’t going to find anything.” Her radar was incredibly accurate; before I knew it I would be in the car heading for the hospital to be admitted for a two-week course of heavy duty intravenous antibiotics.

With breathing restrictions, physical activities weren’t always easy for me.

There have been times when I needed oxygen 24/7. The sheer act of walking was a major task. I used my disability parking permit when I was out. Several times I returned to find handwritten notes tucked into my windshield stating that I abused the system. Nasty little sentences slamming me for misusing a disabled parking space. Why would someone as young and healthy as me require a disabled parking pass? In fact, I remember once coming back to my car only to find a note which read: “Someone in their prime age, has no use to abuse a benefit like that. You should be ashamed of yourself”.

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Many of those living with an invisible disease’s can relate with this experience;  even though you know you’re sick, you know as soon as you step out that people will see your lack of a wheelchair or crutches and do a double take of the handicapped spot you’ve parked in.

Yet the truth is that about 96% of disabled people have what are called an invisible illness. Because they’re invisible, people assume we’re faking all the time. The scariest thing is that many painful chronic illnesses go without acknowledgment or recognition from society, even disability circles. It can even get to the point where the illness controls that person’s life. When it’s such a major thing to that person, it’s not helpful when people dismiss it as a fabrication.

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“I didn’t realize disability had an age limit… someone should really tell my body that.”

Thinking on this topic, yet another painful memory floats up inside my head. I was learning how to drive. It was a hot humid summer night, my older brother Chris had taken me out for a lesson. We had stopped at a McDonald’s for ice-cream. Returning to my car I saw a woman make a gesture to her younger daughter regarding my size and the fact that I was driving. She openly pointed to me, motioning her hands to emphasize my small stature. While she was mocking me behind the wheel she was laughing. Not only did this make me feel disrespected it also made me mad. I secretly wanted to go over to the woman and tell her how insensitive she was. I wanted to educate her about CF and tell her how fortunate her daughter was to be healthy. But instead I got into my car and drove away. This memory sits with me. The worst thing you can do to a person with an invisible illness is, have them feel like they need to prove how sick they are. 

Depending on the mutation of the gene, Cystic Fibrosis can play a large part in children’s growth. Ciliated epithelial cells in the person that have a mutated protein lead to abnormally viscous mucus production. The poor growth in children typically presents as an inability to gain weight or height at the same rate as their peers and is occasionally not diagnosed until investigation is initiated for poor growth. The causes of growth failure are multifactorial and include lung infection, poor absorption of nutrients through the gastrointestinal tract, and increased metabolic demand due to chronic illness.

Nutritional failure in cystic fibrosis is multifactorial. Malabsorption of fat, protein, and fat-soluble vitamins is a result of insufficient production of pancreatic enzymes, which can be exacerbated by bile salt abnormalities in the presence of concurrent liver disease. Progressive pulmonary infection can lead to increased work of breathing, reduced appetite, and increased caloric needs from inflammatory catabolism. Other factors that affect nutrition include cystic fibrosis–related diabetes mellitus, altered motility of the gastrointestinal tract, and small bowel bacterial overgrowth.

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Pancreatic insufficiency results in malabsorption and maldigestion of nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins. In fact, cystic fibrosis derives its name from the cysts and fibrosis noted in the pancreas of patients with the disease. Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) and optimization of nutritional deficiencies can prevent growth failure and improve other outcomes in patients with Cystic Fibrosis, including quality of life, resistance to infection, and chronic lung disease, which can lead to longer life expectancy. The type of the genetic mutation causing cystic fibrosis determines whether a patient is pancreatic-sufficient or pancreatic-insufficient, although approximately 85% of patients are pancreatic-insufficient by the age of 1 to 2 years. Pancreatic sufficiency in the setting of Cystic Fibrosis is a risk factor for recurrent pancreatitis, and recurrent pancreatitis can often be a presentation for the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis

CF has me forever ensnared in a childlike body. Short stature, thin, I will be the eternal kid due to the mutation that prevented my growth. My body wasn’t getting enough nutrients at the time I hit my growth spurts and puberty. Being in my body isn’t always easy. Even though I am a grown man I struggle to live life as “normal” as possible. It’s made daily tasks a challenge as well I feel like I’ve missed out on parts of life. As I journey throughout life I’ve learned to adapt. Blend in and even though what seems like a simple task I have taken on the challenge to overcome it.

Living with an invisible illness, it’s difficult and often pointless to try to explain to someone who has no idea of the daily struggles you face. Feeling the pain, feeling unwell, feeling awful on the inside whilst looking perfectly fine on the outside is a hard act to keep up. Putting on a brave face for everyone wears you down. There are many forms of invisible illness other than CF. The invisible sufferers include Anxiety, Alzheimer’s, Chron’s, Depression, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, PTSD and many different kinds of Cancers.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

We learn not to talk about it! We’ve learned not to talk about our illnesses. Out fear out of disbelief, patronizing phrases or yet another unhelpful answer, and because we’re sick of being made to feel over-dramatic as if it’s all in our head.

We need someone who’s willing to listen. When I say listen, I mean really listen. Not give us answers to make us feel better at the time or daft answers that, while I’m sure are said to be helpful, only make the situation worse. We just want a friend who’s going to say ‘I’m here for you’ when we need them most

“Ask questions before you judge me. I’m happy to share my story and want to educate others. My challenges/pain is real so if you don’t understand, get to know me.”

The best thing you could say to someone with an Invisible illness is to tell them “you believe in them”. Believing is acknowledging you understand what they are going through. Today we have no reason to judge anyone as we don’t know what their story in life is. Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are. So remember to keep an open mind.

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We may not look sick, but turn our bodies inside out and they would tell different stories.

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BREATHE

May 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

IMG_8923INHALEEXHALE, now again INHALEEXHALE, and REPEAT, it’s easier said than done for some. Breathing is an involuntary act which most people do not think about and take for granted. To someone with Cystic Fibrosis that breath you just took would be a gift!

Many people have asked me what’s it like living with Cystic Fibrosis, does it “Hurt”? I’ve never given a clear answer as there isn’t one. I can describe what Cystic Fibrosis is to me, or how it feels like to me. But you should know, there isn’t just one kind of CF gene there are over 1,900 different types of mutations of the gene. Some are common and others are rare and found only in a few people. Certain types of are associated with different symptoms of the disease. For example, some mutations are more likely to affect the gastrointestinal tract than the lungs. However, knowing an individual’s CF mutation cannot tell you how severe that person’s CF symptoms will be.

If you’re new to the scene of Cystic Fibrosis let me enlighten you:

Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic condition that causes severe damage to the respiratory and digestive systems. This damage often results from a buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the organs. The most commonly affected organs include the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestines.

Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce sweat, mucus, and digestive enzymes. Normally, these secreted fluids are thin and smooth like olive oil. They lubricate various organs and tissues, preventing them from getting too dry or infected. In people with cystic fibrosis, however, a faulty gene causes the fluids to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the fluids clog the ducts, tubes, and passageways in the body. This can lead to life-threatening problems, including infections, respiratory failure, and malnutrition.

In my case, the mutation I have has affected my respiratory system, nose, hands/feet, brain, reproductive system, bones, pancreas, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and exocrine glands. So to make it clear CF doesn’t just affect your lungs, it can have an effect on the entire body. In other words, Cystic Fibrosis is a drawing of the straw kind of life.

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month!                                              

Throughout the next few posts, we will journey into the cause and effects CF can have on the body and personal life. Be sure to check back in this month for more interesting posting regarding Cystic Fibrosis.

But first, let’s try an experiment a challenge if you want to call it that. This simple exercise will give you a feeling of what it’s like to breathe like me or someone with CF.

The Challenge: Obviously it is very difficult to experience the full range of problems encountered by people living with CF, like chronic shortness of breathconstant coughing, and debilitating fatigue. It is not actually straightforward for most people with CF as the build-up of mucus in the lungs means that less oxygen is available, which causes problems with breathing normally. However, by breathing through a narrow straw, you can get some sense of what it feels like with reduced lung function. This is amplified during intense moments when breathing is a struggle such as a heavy coughing fit. There is no way for anyone to know what it truly feels like to be another person, this is one of the closer experiments to experience what it’s like to breathe as someone with CF. It’s very simple to do and there are only a few steps.

WARNING: At any time you feel light headed or extreme discomfort, STOP! 

  1. Find a medium sized drinking straw, something you would find at most restaurants/bars the longer the better, not a straw that has a larger diameter. The effect will not be as intense.

  2. Stick the straw between your lips (make sure there is a good seal around the straw and your lips), plug your nose and breathe through the straw for 60 seconds.

Several seconds in you might not think it’s so bad, but then around the 25-30 second mark, you begin to consciously think about the lack of air pouring into your lungs. Around the 35-second mark, you wonder if it’s almost over. By 60 seconds your lungs are beginning to panic a bit and your brain is screaming that you should release your lips from the straw. People with CF don’t get to stop; it’s why each breath seems so important/valuable. There can be days it feels like it takes everything just to breathe but instead of panicking we have to move forward and remind ourselves to breathe.

Describe in one word how it felt to breathe through the straw, now challenge your friends.

With that one word, I welcome you to post your response of the straw experiment please take photos of you and your friends during this moment and post on your social media account allowing others to be educated of your experience. Use the hashtags #strawchallenge #cysticfibrosisawareness #fight2breathe #Cysticfibrosis  #CF

Now imagine having to cope with that feeling when you are climbing the stairs, running for a bus or in the case of a child, just trying to keep up with your friends while you play.

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If you didn’t find it challenging enough, try climbing a flight of stairs, walk around the room for a while, include some kind of everyday activity, jogging in place for a minute. All while breathing through the straw with your nose pinched.

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Meet Devin Featherstone, Devin is a good friend that has been doing his part with Cystic Fibrosis Awareness. He accepted the straw challenge while hiking up in the mountains. Take his word for it”This Sucks”!

The straw challenge probably is the closest activity to experience what it’s like to breathe and live ith CF. Breathing isn’t the only challenge we CFer’s have to face and live with. There’s depressionanxietyscene of lonelinessstress,  painbad cough,  infections,  medical treatments, and nutrition just to mention a few.

I’ve experienced my challenges with all of the above symptoms. I have faced some really difficult times living with CF. Even though they may seem like dark times at the moment, I try and look at them from a positive point of view and transform them into lessons. Some may leave scars; scars are but evidence of life, scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance that we have fought for something we wanted in life; LIFE IT”S SELF. I’ve started to learn to use my scars to educate others that there are ways to heal, to live, bring awareness.

Through the completion of each survival, I gain a lesson that I hope to educate others with.

I’ve walked in the darkness so that others may see the light.

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