Because of the struggles I've faced with cystic fibrosis, I feel that I sometimes tend to have a perspective on life unlike most. I see the little moments as huge ones, I celebrate the smallest of wins, and I embrace every minor detail that life has to offer. I do my best to see the opportunity in a challenge and bright light waiting at the end of what can feel like a dark tunnel. And, although most might think I have this outlook despite CF, the reality is that I have this outlook because of CF.
Don't get me wrong, it's not always rainbows and butterflies. I've been in those moments where it seems I am never going to leave the hospital bed or stop spending my days at the doctor's office -- when I am just plain sick and tired of being sick and tired. It's normal and I felt totally OK to break down and truly have those awful moments. But, when that horrible feeling passes (as it always does), there's an unbelievable happiness and appreciation that comes over me. And in those times, despite the heartache I have just faced and -- inevitably -- will face again, I appreciate all that life has given me.
There's a saying that goes something like, “You don't know light until you've been in the dark.” I completely understand this. I'm not sure I would have ever been able to truly appreciate all life has to offer if I hadn't ever felt like there was a possibility of it being taken away from me.
I also have been uniquely blessed to experience an overwhelming amount of support. Although my family has made the most sacrifices of anyone, I have felt loved and supported by entire communities. I've been able to get involved in the Foundation and it has had an undying effect on my outlook.
Attending and being a part of the Foundation's events is a surreal experience, every time. I have a hard time putting into words just how humbling it is to see a gathering of so many people -- some I know, most I don't -- give so much time and attention to a cause that directly impacts my everyday life.
Seeing the hard work that so many put into the gatherings and just how much they give of themselves is truly unbelievable. It's unlike any emotion I've ever felt, full of love and appreciation. I have some of the most treasured moments of my life at these events.
My family also has been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people that will not stop until there is a cure. Most people don't dream of feeling an ounce of the love and compassion I've been able to experience in my lifetime from so many close friends. It's hard to imagine, but I will never be able to thank or do enough for those who have given so much to my family and me. There really is nothing more special than seeing so many people sacrifice so much time and time again.
I've told myself my whole life that I never wanted to let CF define me, and it hasn't. But, I can't deny that it has played a major role is shaping me into the woman I am today. And -- for that -- I am oh so grateful. I can't say how I would feel with a different family, no support, or no CF Foundation. But I do know that I get to choose my outlook based on my experience -- I see the good despite the bad and have faith there is light waiting even in the darkest of times.