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Ask the Health Leaders: CF Traits

Last updated: January 2023

People living with cystic fibrosis (CF) are often diagnosed at a young age and don't remember a time when they did not live with this condition. As a result, it can become an integral part of who they are and help form different aspects of their personality and identity. We wanted to see what "CF traits" our health leaders believe they have.

CF traits

Response from Ella

Having cystic fibrosis has shaped me to want to live each day to its fullest. My motivation to have this attitude has grown with each passing year, though it’s taken time to gain the maturity, experiences, and confidence to find my identity and purpose. For some of us, the inability to plan for our careers or our futures in general can be viewed as a negative thing, but it can allow us to pursue avenues we never thought possible.

Things in life work out. As long as we have the drive, determination, and ambition to put our best into whatever we do, and to gain fulfillment from that task or accomplishment, we are successful, each in our own way. I see these traits in many individuals with CF. And for those that struggle with finding strength and motivation, I encourage them to be bold, speak their mind, and let others experience who they truly are – to not be afraid of what others think of us. This has shaped my life tremendously.

Response from Moriah

One trait that I think I have because of CF is what I call the "no BS" trait. This became especially apparent to me during and after going through evaluation for a double-lung transplant back in 2019, right before Trikafta was released. Now, when I say "no BS," what I mean is that I don't (or at least try not to) involve myself in petty drama, I don't play mind games, I just want to be myself, and I don't pretend to be something I'm not. Frankly, life (especially life with CF) is too short to waste on any of that.

When I was getting worked up for a transplant, I knew that there was a very real chance that I wouldn't make it to the next 5 years, and I didn't want to waste that time trying to be or do anything that didn't make me happy. Luckily, I was put on Trikafta and that has since given me more time (albeit an unknown amount), but I kept the no-BS mentality.

Response from Emma

It is often hard for people to find positives living with a chronic illness, yet one I came to the realisation of is CF is the greatest teacher and it has many lessons. CF has taught me a multitude of things as I meander along this journey. I have developed many CF traits that help build my “sick girl” persona which also transfer to all other areas of my life, too.

Traits CF makes me feel are robust, resilient, adaptable, compassionate and bold; not just me but many CF people share the same traits I do. We learn to persevere in extremely stressful and uncertain circumstances at a very early age. We fight for our “breathing pain-free” freedom every day with unwavering defiance, strength, and courage. I think it shows in our community that CFers have an enhanced sense of empathy and compassion. CF is a tough gig but I can't imagine who I would be without it because every CF trait made me who I am today.

Response from Katelyn

I think one trait that CF has helped me nurture is the trait of compassion. We never know the full picture of anything. As outsiders, we only know what people tell us. For example, I may know that my CF friend is in the hospital. But the details are their details alone. And even if they do feel safe in our friendship and want to tell me, I don’t know exactly what they are going through. Each person has their own experience with CF, and I believe we can extend that to other communities. We can feel compassion toward people or situations that we don’t fully understand. Extending compassion can be a daily practice and can help validate people in their individual experiences.

Response from Janeil

The most astounding lesson CF has taught me is to hold empathy for all the different people that cross my path. I’m not sure if it's because CF teaches you so many difficult emotions early on or the scope of experiences someone with CF can have is so broad, but I feel like I have learned to turn towards people, even people who are unlike myself. Loss, frustration, grief, disappointment, betrayal, desperation, uncertainty, etc. Those are all the very real and raw emotions someone with CF deals with on a daily basis. I’m really thankful that I have the capacity to sit with people in their pain. I hope that life never hardens me to the point that empathy turns to apathy.

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