CF Is Unpredictable -- Choose Friends Who Aren’t

Friendships are an important aspect of life, but they are especially meaningful when you have a disease like cystic fibrosis. By finding a group of people who take the time to understand what I'm going through, I've been able to maintain a strong support system through the ups and downs of life with CF.

 

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Leah Chase
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Having true friends is one of the greatest joys of my life. I feel incredibly lucky to have people (including my significant other) who have been by my side for over 30 years, and I appreciate their constant presence in my life more than they will ever know.

Sure, there is a level of understanding, patience, compassion, honesty, and commonality that all healthy, long-term friendships require; but, having an illness like CF takes this to a whole new level, because sometimes, CF has different plans for my life than I do. My friends realize that it is CF that is unpredictable, not me; and for that, I am eternally grateful.

In the past, I've had “friends” who did not try to understand CF, such as how I could look fine but end up in the hospital two days later with an exacerbation. They didn't get that I felt crappy most of the time and I had, for the most part, mastered not looking sick. So, on top of being miserably ill, I also had people mad at me for “bailing.”

Additional anxiety and stress is the last thing you need when you are sick. And since getting sick and having to change your plans can be a common scenario in a life with CF, you have to choose friends who care enough about you to educate themselves about what you are facing. Although those people may be hard to find, they are well worth the wait and you will appreciate their true friendships as I do mine:

  • Thank you, Chad, for your constant, unwavering love and support. You are so patient and kind. I could not have asked for a better man than you.
  • Brett, my only son, thank you for your strength and understanding. Even though you are far away defending our country, I can always count on your texts and calls to brighten my days. 
  • Thank you, Kristen, for keeping enzymes at your house so that I don't have to worry about whether I brought enough with me when I come visit. After being best friends for over 30 years, I consider you my sister. I don't know what I would do without your strength and care.
  • My sister, Audrey, thank you for always being there for me. I know that no matter what is going on, you can make me feel calmer. I'm very lucky to have you for my big sister.
  • Thank you, Jenny, for helping me feel human again by washing my hair in the sink and braiding it when I was too weak to do it myself.  
  • Thank you, Aly, for lifting my spirits and sending me a yummy edible bouquet when I learned my hospital stay was going to be much longer than anticipated and felt very defeated.
  • Thank you, Chad, Kristen, Jenny, Aly, Lelane, Audrey, Jessica, Brett, Kiley, and Heather, for the countless hours you have spent visiting me in the hospital; for the snacks, actually drinkable coffee, the laughs, and edible food you have brought to me; and for your understanding, empathy, respect, consideration, and above all, love.

I could not ask for better friends. Thank you for acknowledging I have CF and for also looking past it so that it doesn't define our friendship. I know that it takes an extra amount of patience and understanding when dealing with CF, and I hope everyone who reads this -- whether you have CF or not -- is lucky enough to find the strong bond of friendship that I have found with you all.

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Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant in 1972, Leah has participated in many clinical trials. She endeavors to perpetuate programs, education, and research about CF until a cure is found. Leah lives in North Carolina with her significant other and his daughter. She also has a 20-year-old son who serves as air crew in the U.S. Air Force. She is unable to work outside the home but does not let that stop her from being productive. She enjoys freelance writing, word games, spending time with family and friends, and is considering starting a blog.

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