How to Immerse Yourself in the CF Community

Many of us experienced powerful moments during last year's virtual BreatheCon event. We hope you'll join us for this year's BreatheCon that will allow you to share your struggles and triumphs with other people who have CF.

| 5 min read
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Chad Riedy
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Having cystic fibrosis is a challenge every day and takes a toll in more ways than one can imagine. Many of us are looking for understanding, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. Often, that can only be found with others who have CF.

Meeting other people with CF can be difficult when the infection prevention protocols that keep us safe limit our ability to connect in person. That's why BreatheCon is important -- it's a virtual event where adults with CF can find a friend, a new idea, a different perspective, support, and hopefully, inspiration.

As co-chairs of the event, we believe BreatheCon provides the type of experience that can make a genuine impact on someone's life, where each person takes something away that will shape their life for the better.

Based on our experiences and those of others who attended last year's event, here are some things adults with CF can expect at BreatheCon:

  • Compassion. “I remember sitting in a breakout session listening to a fellow attendee share a personal story about the impact CF had on her relationship with her spouse, and how it eventually caused them to go in different directions. It was amazing to see the genuine compassion on the faces of the other people in the session as they listened intently and responded with caring words of support and encouragement.” -- Chad Riedy
  • Enlightenment. “For someone who has never fully immersed himself in the CF community and always sat on the outside 'looking in,' BreatheCon was an eye-opening experience that I can honestly say has changed my life. It was during a 'dating and CF' breakout session in which somebody asked how to talk about CF for the first time with a significant other.
     

    The room went kind of quiet, and maybe I just had to vent, but I said, 'I think partners, friends, or family members for that matter who actually ask questions about CF in a meaningful and genuine way are the ones who have your best interests in mind and are the ones to keep around!'
     

    That sparked an interesting and incredibly meaningful discussion, and I realized that I am not the only one who thinks in this way and that we all have similarities for a number of reasons, CF being just one.” -- John Mercer

  • Community. “One thing that still sticks with me is the sense of community that BreatheCon created for us adults living with CF. This really hit home for me last year when, due to a technical issue, some breakout sessions were canceled. Instead of leaving the event, a lot of people spontaneously met up in the chat area where both old friends and new people all started bonding around a common issue: CF.” -- Chad Riedy
  • Comfort. “I had never stepped out of my comfort zone in regard to sharing about CF. That is, until attending BreatheCon last year. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the biggest takeaway for me was the comfort I felt knowing that other adults with CF understood what my day-to-day life involved and felt like. I used to wonder, in the privacy of my own home, what other adults with CF were doing or how they were handling various situations. Now I don't have to -- I get to replace that curiosity with reality.” -- Claire Donnelly
  • Hope. “I attended BreatheCon last year after a very difficult bout of pneumonia, not knowing if I would ever come home from the hospital. As I was recovering, talking to fellow people with CF during BreatheCon gave me hope and strength to keep fighting. I no longer felt alone, and it inspired me to get involved in this year's event in hopes of reaching more people and making a similar difference in someone else's life.” -- Lauren Vignola
  • Appreciation. “Hearing people discuss the value of their relationships with family, friends, significant others, and other people with CF -- the support that they get from those groups and how valuable they are in keeping us healthy -- is a key thing I took away with me last year. I left BreatheCon with an even greater appreciation for my support systems in helping me conquer CF on a daily basis and to continue to thrive despite adversity.” -- Meghan Weisbecker

These are just a few of the takeaways people with CF have from BreatheCon last year, and we can't wait to make new memories this year.

Ultimately, BreatheCon is about connecting with others through shared experiences to build a community that can provide strength, support, inspiration, compassion, and empathy toward one another as we travel through the journey of CF. By making connections and strengthening bonds, we hope to build friendships that will last long after BreatheCon is over.

We can't wait to meet you all in September and see how powerful it is when we all come together.

To join Chad, John, and hundreds of other adults with CF at BreatheCon, register by Sept. 6. All adults with CF age 18 and over are welcome.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Chad is an award-winning grill master and amateur Lego builder who was born in 1981. He lives in Alexandria, Va., with his wife and two sons. Chad graduated from Wittenberg University, where he tended bar, traveled to Africa, and earned degrees in both history and African studies. In addition to being chair of Tomorrow's Leaders for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Chapter, he is a member of the  Adult Advisory Council and National Advocacy co-chair for the CF Foundation. In addition he participates in the weekly vlog Staying Salty. You can find him playing baseball with his kids, doing CF treatments in his basement, and on social media. Follow @cjriedy on Twitter or Instagram
 

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