In the Spotlight

Dr. Chuck Fox

As a child, Chuck Fox had two dreams. One, he wanted to be a doctor. Two, he wanted to marry and have a family.

He accomplished both goals, although the journey wasn’t easy. He had physicians tell him it was irresponsible to start a family because of his cystic fibrosis. When Chuck applied for medical school, doctors told him that he should reconsider.

"I did it anyway, and couldn't be any happier," says Chuck, who graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1999.
 
Defying the Odds to Reach His Goals

Chuck was diagnosed with CF at birth, and an obstetrician told his mom not to bother nursing him because her baby wouldn’t survive. When he was 3 or 4 years old, an upbeat pediatrician told his parents not to worry because their son would be a football player someday. He also suggested that they treat him like any other kid. So that’s what they did.
Dr. Chuck Fox, 38, who has CF; his wife, Amy; and their twins, Ben and Sydney, 9.
Dr. Chuck Fox, 38, who has CF; his wife, Amy; and their twins, Ben and Sydney, 9.

“Quite honestly, the odds were stacked against me,” Chuck says. “I had many people tell me not to do things because of my disease. It motivated me to do them.”

Now 38, Chuck is a father, husband and doctor. He has been married to Amy for 13 years, and they are enjoying every minute with their 9-year-old twins, Ben and Sydney.

Chuck gains strength from playing baseball with his son. He enjoys passing down Jewish traditions to his twins who are learning Hebrew. He loves listening to them play piano, one of his passions.

A gastroenterologist at Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates for the past six years, Chuck was recently named in Atlanta Magazine's “Top Doctors” Guide in 2011, a list of top physicians in the metro area.

His days are filled with patient visits and procedures, ranging from colonoscopies to treatments for chronic liver disease. “It keeps you on your toes to do all of those things,” he says.  “It’s a reasonable schedule. It allows me to do my other job — taking care of my kids and taking care of myself.”

Benefitting from Progress in CF Treatments

Chuck is currently taking 16 medicines daily, including inhalers, injections and pills, in addition to wearing his mechanical vest that helps him cough up the mucus that accumulates in his lungs. He also exercises every day to maintain his health.

“It’s a very intense regimen, but I can still work full-time and have a family and not let the disease define me,” he says. “I’m able to do what I want to do with my life.”

It’s a very different regimen from when he was a kid, when none of his current medicines existed except for his enzyme pills that he takes when he eats. “My parents would do chest physical therapy for about 15 minutes twice a day to help me cough up the mucus,” he remembers. The vest, which he now uses for 30 minutes each day, gave him a lot of independence.

After being admitted to the hospital once a year for 12 years, Chuck recently celebrated his third anniversary of no hospital admissions, which has been the longest respite since medical school.

He attributes that success to finding a balance between work and home, being diligent with his treatment regimen and the development of new inhalants.

“I’m older than my CF doctor,” he says. “When I was a kid, that notion was unfathomable — and now it’s a reality because of all the new medicines and the health care that we are receiving.”

Giving Back to the CF Cause

Chuck has been involved with fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since childhood, participating in bowling and swimming events to help fund research for a cure and critical advancements in CF treatments. In 2011, his family raised $21,000 for the Great Strides walk.

At his local Foundation chapter’s Wine and Roses Gala last April, Chuck’s family and friends gathered to hear his Bid for a Cure speech.

As soon as he said he was born in 1973, Chuck got a standing ovation.
 
He knows his story gives others hope.

Posted 1/24/2012

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