Most people wake up to a cup of coffee, but one Red Deerian wakes up to 15 pills every morning.
That’s only part of what living with cystic fibrosis (CF) looks like, said Christy St. Dennis, 39.
At the annual Walk to Make CF History in Red Deer Sunday, St. Dennis said she is healthier than most people with the illness, because she sticks to her treatment, diet, and exercise regime. For instance, St. Dennis has two children – something uncommon among those with the condition.
“Most people with CF my age would not even be working anymore. Most people stop working in their 20s,” said the registered nurse.
CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadians, the CF Canada website states. The condition, with no cure so far, affects the digestive system and lungs.
The degree of severity varies in each case, however the ongoing infection in the lungs causes loss of lung function, eventually leading to death in the majority of people with CF.
Other symptoms include persistent cough, shortness of breath, weight loss or failure to gain weight, and infertility or decreased fertility, the CF Canada website states.
Rowan Tibbets, eight, who also has CF, was among the 75 people who came out for the three kilometre walk.
Her mom, Kelly, said Rowan was diagnosed when she was three weeks old.
Kelly, who is Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s Red Deer chapter president, said her daughter’s mild developments of CF means she misses school and “generally feels unwell often.”
“Mild in her case still means she has taken nearly 40,000 pills since she was three weeks old,” said Kelly.
Kelly said walks like the one on Sunday help raise awareness about the condition and money for research and advocacy. The annual walk raises about $10,000 in Central Alberta which goes to CF Canada.
Similar walks were hosted in other cities across Canada Sunday.