Do you ever feel guilty for a privilege you have that others are denied? Questioning “why me?” for something good happening to you when most ask the same question when something bad happens to them. Almost like an alternate universe playing out in your mind. Well, sometimes I feel guilty for living such a healthy life with Cystic Fibrosis while others are struggling to “Just Breathe.”

The phrase “Just Breathe” holds a different meaning to everyone. Whether it’s a cliché saying turned tattoo, a phrase you say during a stress-filled day, what you tell your kids when they come crying to you because they just fell on the playground, a standstill moment when the doctor tells you you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, an important saying you hold near and dear because your family member is struggling with COPD, or in my case, because you’re living alongside a chronic illness that primarily affects your lungs.

“Just Breathe” is a common and well-known phrase among the CF community. How it became a designated saying for CF, I’m not sure. But what I am sure of, is that it holds significant meaning to me, as if it’s engraved on my heart. Or better yet, my lungs. That sounds more appropriate, right?  It is, however, permanently engraved on my wrist – and not the cliché saying turned tattoo as “Just Breathe” is no cliché in my world. I have my own twist however, the word breathe inside the infinity sign and to me, it means “Breathe Forever.” A reminder that I get to stare at each and every day to defy the odds because I’ve never let the statistics of CF stop me.

**Let’s get real** Here’s the part where I started to act all badass. The part where I started telling you while lying to myself, that CF is MY bitch and I don’t let it dictate my life. But that’s not the case.  I most certainly don’t bow down to my disease but I also am very mindful to the fact that it is unpredictable and CF deserves some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. — Sing it, Aretha! Trust me, you don’t want to hear my singing. As mentioned in “This Is The Introduction”, CF doesn’t DEFINE who I am, it is just a PART of who I am. And that is exactly how I view it, as an adjective, as in “describe yourself in 3 words.”

Many say that certain diseases do not discriminate. And while that may hold true to those diseases, it does not hold true to CF. Cystic Fibrosis does discriminate and it discriminates hard. It distinctly picks and chooses all of its losses, its wins, its hospitalizations, transplants, its victims and its fighters… and then the ones who defy all odds. The ones who take the statistics of CF and crush them.

I don’t exactly know why I was chosen to lead this life with CF. Or why I drew the hand I did when it comes to my health. Sure, you could chalk it up to science and the background behind genetics. But why, me? Specifically me. Well, all I can lean on is PURPOSE. It is MY purpose. I was placed exactly where I am supposed to be, so carefully and delicately by God to lead a life of purpose. To give hope and share my mission, my story, my intention and my gratefulness with others living with (and without) CF. In fact, I have CF to thank for a lot of things! It’s strange how that works because why or how could anyone thank something that is so unpredictable? So cruel and life-threatening? It’s because it made me strong, made me determined, made me thankful and what ultimately lead me to my career. It is because of CF that I am the woman I am today and for that, I am thankful.

Happy Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month to my Cysters and Fibros!

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