I was diagnosed with CF at the age of 4. My physicians told my parents to treat me as a “normal” child, and prepare for the day when I would be much sicker. As a result, I was enrolled in T-ball, town soccer, ice skating and swimming lessons and learned how to ski.
When I reached high school, and was cut from the school’s soccer team, I began running cross-country and track. I was not fast. My apparent lack of talent did not deter me. Given that I had no chance of winning races or even scoring for my team, all of my running goals focused on self-improvement.
From the very earliest days, I remember focusing on setting personal records. By my senior year of high school, I had greatly improved, and ran a respectable 5K at a little over 17 minutes. Not record-breaking, but fast enough to make running at the NCAA Division III level a possibility. I continued running through college, gradually improving.
Throughout my adolescence and early adulthood, the desire to run faster or make a team resulted in wanting to do my medication routine.
Running competitively taught me how to set attainable short-term and long-term goals, and how to do the work required to accomplish them. I was able to develop a self-image centered on ability in the face of obstacles.
I learned that CF does not prevent me from reaching my goals — be they athletic, academic or professional.
I am now an avid cyclist. I have completed a half-ironman triathlon and cross-country ski marathons, ridden my bike 800 miles through the Canadian Rockies, and completed dozens of 100-mile rides.
When I look in the mirror today, I don’t see a sick person. I see an athlete, a law school graduate and a husband.
Setting goals around physical activities motivates me to do my other daily treatments, and reduces the anxieties I feel from living a life with CF. I want to be able to ride my bike. I’m willing to work incredibly hard to do what I can to maintain that ability.
I focus on doing what I can do today, and what I’m going to do tomorrow. As long as I take one day at a time, I don’t become consumed by the unknowables of a future clouded by CF — and in the process, live an incredibly rich and full life.
Regular exercise has become an important part of my CF (life) care. Depending on my body's needs and where I am at the time, my choice about what activity to do can have a wide range.
Sometimes it just needs to be a lap around the hospital unit, sometimes it's a walk around the block or housework with music. It can be 20 minutes of dancing, or even an hour of hula hooping with friends.
I also love to bike, swim, longboard, snowboard and hike. I like to mix it up, doing as much as I can.
The continued push to find joyful activity that I CAN do keeps me healthier and grateful and gives me a reason to smile each day.