A woman crosses a rainbow bridge stretching through a purple ribbon

The Many Colors of Cystic Fibrosis: Purple (Part 1)

May is cystic fibrosis awareness month, which is represented by the color purple. Purple is rarely seen in a hospital setting, so I always make sure to include it in my aesthetic. My isolated hospital stays have always included a fuzzy purple blanket, purple pillows, and purple wall decorations. Heck, even my hair was purple!

If you haven’t read my previous articles, you need to know that I’m a huge fan of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.” However, the song “Joseph’s Coat” doesn't mention the color purple until the end of the chorus. Let’s make up for it by exploring the impact of the color purple.

Cystic fibrosis awareness

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that primarily affects my lungs and digestive system through overproduction of mucus. Other complications include cystic fibrosis related diabetes (CFRD), gastroparesis (in many cases), osteoporosis (in many cases), sinus disease, among other ailments. It’s a nasty disease to say the least. Knowing this, you’d think CF would be represented by a yucky color like booger green. Thankfully, all my fundraising and advocacy shirts are a beautiful shade of violet!

Great strides walk

My mom and I have participated in the Great Strides Walk for a cure since I was diagnosed with CF at age 5. My family, friends, classmates, and even cast members would walk. It was the only time of year my mother and I publicized my disease, so the annual event holds a special place in my heart.

Last year, I had the honor of hosting the Great Strides event for the Eastern Carolinas virtually. Talk about full circle. This year, Team Nicole will decorate the Wake County, North Carolina event with our purple shirts. I’m excited to walk and ensure that CF stands for “cure found” in my lifetime.

Pancreas awareness

Pancreatic diseases are also represented by the purple awareness ribbon. My pancreas is insufficient due to my CF gene mutation, meaning it can’t process and absorb the food that I eat. CF patients like myself aid this issue by taking enzymes with meals. My absorption worsens when the mucus in my lungs or sinuses makes its way into my digestive system. It clogs my intestines and slows my digestion even further, making the chore of gaining or maintaining weight a tough task.

In my next article, I’ll round out the other causes represented by the purple awareness ribbon! In the meantime, think back through your journey with chronic illness. How many purple items can you identify?

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