woman knight holding a sword kneels on the ground

What It Means To Be A CF Warrior

Some of the fiercest people I know have CF. The strength, determination and sheer willpower to fight for another breath is formidable. To friends and family who don’t have the custom, built in drive to succeed beyond all physical limitations, this CF trait can either be unnerving or inspiring for many people close to us.

Personally for me, this “keep on, keeping on” attitude isn't created or opted for by choice. It is inherent to who I am as though alongside inheriting CF, I have indirectly inherited its kryptonite. I would be a fool to think that this mental attitude alone is enough to defeat CF and all that it stands for but it has been the thing that gives me strength when I am at my weakest.

Made for impossible challenges

When I was knocking on the door of death, with a bleak prognosis ahead before modulators came onto the scene - I didn't crumble. Instead I rose up to another impossible challenge by making what little time I did have count. Many people without CF won’t ever be able to understand how when our bodies are failing, we still find an inner strength to give it another shot.

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To fulfill one more dream. To live one more day. To fight in just one more battle with our body. To make all this count for something bigger than just breathing pain and lifelong disability.

The mental attitude many of us have adopted is unwavering but like I said, it isn't a choice. There is no denying that living with CF creates a whole host of mental health issues, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to living with a chronic illness, as well as major depression and generalised anxiety.

Part of me believes the trauma response created by living with CF as well as the horrors of many, many difficult medical procedures early in childhood into our adult lives has over the years helped construct our warrior armour.

The paradox of CF

Most people would assume that if we could live without CF, we would. Strangely, I know many CFers including myself, wouldn't be so quick to jump at the chance because a part of me has grown to appreciate the lessons and the skill set I have acquired. Would I be as emotionally resilient without this rollercoaster of a ride, probably not. Would I have achieved as much as I have, I doubt it. Would I be the person I am today, certainly not.

These strong character traits, appreciating all the little and big things in life, never taking anything for granted and by god, being the strongest woman in the room comes at a cost. The paradox of my life is the realisation that CF made me who I am today, it created some of my best bits.

What if

Of course on those bad days, I can fall down a rabbit hole imagining my life without CF and all the “what if’s”. Picturing a simplistic life where I didn’t know how to draw up an IV, didn't spend a large chunk of my life at hospital appointments, wasn't on a first name basis with a specialist consultant or pronounce enough pharmaceutical drugs correctly that I could be mistaken for a pharmacist.

You know the saying, that which does not kill you will only make you stronger. As I watch many CFers in the online community continue to wage a war at every hurdle CF throws up, I sit back and admire the durability of our warrior attitudes.

We weren't born like this but we were sure as hell made like it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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