Living with cystic fibrosis, I never knew if I was going to make it to my 23rd birthday. But here I am in my 23rd year of life, and I've learned that there are a lot of things in this life that we should be grateful for. I just never knew CF could be one of them.
For a disease that causes me so much pain and has made me feel so trapped, CF has also given me the ability to feel a deeper empathy and love for people. Through my own struggles, I can better understand other people's issues. I can empathize and sympathize to create deep connections with others. Through CF, I've learned that the world is bigger than me.
I've found that when I open up about my struggles with CF, it allows other people to open up about the struggles that they're going through as well. By freeing myself, I can help others free themselves. Then, in that space that's created by releasing the burden of shame and guilt, connections of love are established.
I've become grateful for CF because it's a path to connection and a gateway to love. I hope that as I continue on this journey of life, I will learn even more reasons to be grateful for what CF has given me. But for now, I'll relish and cherish this one.
Not only have I made it to 23 … I am free.