Our lives are filled with many singular moments. There are moments of happiness, joy, sadness and fear; and some of these moments will forever stay with you. In December 2011, our lives were changed forever when our precious daughter, Peyton, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
I vividly remember getting the call -- while Christmas shopping with Peyton -- letting me know that something was abnormal on her newborn screening. I immediately knew. Afterwards, I don't think I put her down for at least a week. She was my baby; how could this be happening? She was our firstborn and we were still trying to navigate being new parents, let alone being new parents to a child with a genetic, life-threatening disease. I am also a nurse, so I immediately assumed the worst possible scenarios.
At every doctor's appointment, I felt physically ill with all the questions racing through my mind. What are they going to say? Has she gained enough weight? Is her respiratory culture going to come back clear? Are we doing everything the correct way? Am I always going to cry at every single blood draw? Does her CF care team think we are doing a good job of taking care of her? For months we coped, but it probably took a solid year for us to really thrive emotionally. We relied on our faith to pull us through, and we realized that we could do this. We could take care of her and teach her that everyone lives life differently, and this was just going to be her way of life.
Two years later, I decided I wanted to do more. Not just for our baby, but for others whose children are affected by CF. But how could I do more? We had been involved in fundraising efforts such as Great Strides, but there had to be more that I could do.
I wanted to reach for the stars and beyond. That's when I realized that I could use my profession. So, I became a CF research nurse in January 2014 and have never looked back.
Every single day, I get the privilege of working towards finding a cure for this disease. Not just for my baby, but for everyone living with CF. Lyrics to a song come to mind, “Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come, when you can be one?”
At first, my family was unsure of how I would cope in this new role, and there were days I was also unsure of my own coping abilities. But today, I am stronger than I have ever been in my life, and the work that I do is extremely gratifying. I am glad that I pushed myself so that I could do more. I know that for all of those affected by this disease, there is so much to look forward to.
Peyton is now turning 4 and is, of course, one of our greatest blessings in life. Incidentally, one thing that she can't get enough of is the stars. Every time we are outside, she points at them with such excitement and says, “There are the stars, mommy!” We plan to teach her to reach for those stars in every moment of her life. I will raise her to settle for nothing less. Our family will also continue to reach for the stars until a cure is found, and beyond.