For years I have heard many people with cystic fibrosis say that they are “grateful” for having CF. This always stupefied, almost angered, me. How could anyone be grateful for something that causes them so much physical and emotional pain during their lifetime?
But turning 30 this year was a huge milestone for me in many ways, and it made me reflect on myself a little differently than I have in the past. I feel like it was a year of maturing and finally starting to feel settled in my life. The mischievous and selfish side of adolescence finally started to taper off, and I feel as if I have a broader view of adulthood and the world in general. In reflecting over the last 30 years, it dawned on me that while I am not grateful for having CF and CF-related diabetes (I would trade them at the drop of the hat), I am grateful for the person that I have become.
I have no doubt that if it weren't for me having CF, I would not have been pushed into attending college so that I could get a good job with benefits. I would not be the time-management junkie that I am, and I would not be a go-getter. I would not be obsessed with staying active and in shape, and I would not have had the opportunity to live in a fast forward motion -- knowing all too well how important each day is -- cramming as much as possible into life.
I think that the most important part of having CF for me is realizing that no matter what I am going through on any given day -- a tough day at work, a broken heart, a leaky ice maker in my refrigerator (which soaked my entire kitchen floor) and anything else life throws at me -- I know I will be ok. I know this because I battle a strong foe each and every day -- and I usually win. There is something empowering about doing this.
Living with CF is like facing your high school archrival on their home court, and beating that rival every day.
So, am I grateful for CF? No. But I am grateful for the person that it has helped me become.