Person singing on stage while classmates look on from the audience.

How Theatre Inspired Me

When I was very young, my mother would often wake up from me singing at the top of my lungs. She would find me dressed up in silly clothes singing along with the opera channel. This was the start of a love and passion for music and theatre.

In middle school, I started participating in drama club and speech competitions and my love for performing only grew from there. In high school, I participated in theatrical productions, especially enjoying the musicals. I’d find any reason to dance or sing!

Struggling with finding cystic fibrosis-friendly activities

I struggled with sports and physical extra-curricular activities due to my cystic fibrosis and mild cerebral palsy (CP). This was hard for me to accept since I loved being active and social!

Unfortunately, my CF causes me to have coughing attacks whenever I run, and my CP makes all my muscles very tight and weak. From a young age, I did lots of physical therapy and tried my hardest in PE class. However, the only physical activity I enjoyed and did decently was dance. Theatre gave me a new outlet to dance and sing, providing a workout for my muscles and lungs.

Theatre was a great activity for my cystic fibrosis

I’m thankful for all the ways theatre helped me, especially in regards to my CF. Some of the ways theatre helped me include:

Sharing with peers about CF

I loved the social aspect of theatre, hanging out with like-minded peers. Growing up in a smaller town meant everyone knew I had cystic fibrosis, which made coughing attacks, medication, and therapy easier to do. Nobody thought anything of it. It wasn’t a big deal if I was coughing or if I had an IV attached to a pump that I carried around during practices.

However, this changed when I did theatre in other locations, like at college or other towns. My peers no longer knew about my CF. I have always been pretty outgoing about my CF, but sharing with people I didn’t know was a new experience.

I grew to be comfortable doing meds in front of them. Everyone was very accepting. A few college theatre friends would even hang out with me after play practice while I did my evening therapies. It was nice to have the company to help keep me awake. Some carried my backpack of books when they could tell I was tired or worn out.

All these new friends taught me that I didn’t need to worry about sharing about my CF. It taught me that I could be open and honest, trusting people to be kind. It really helped me to embrace my CF while enjoying my passion for theatre.

Routine and schedule

Play practice was the same time every evening, which helped keep my routine stable. Routine was the best way for me to get all my therapies done! I have been doing 7-9 treatments a day since I was in junior high. I’d read my script or listen to the show’s soundtrack during treatments to keep me busy. Having set schedules was crucial to my health and theatre helped me keep it stable.

Confidence and passion

Theatre gave me an activity to focus on daily besides the medication, blood draws, and sickness that comes with cystic fibrosis. I have done over 30 productions and started to expand into directing, choreographing, and producing plays, but I still prefer to be on the stage. Being on stage taught me confidence. Even now as an adult I see how that confidence helped to shape the person I have become.

Grateful for my time in theatre

I haven’t done a show in a couple years, because now I’m a parent (fostering) and need to spend my time at home with our kid(s). I plan to do more theatre in a few years, when our kid(s) are a bit older and understand more. However, I will always be grateful for what theatre taught me and how it helped with my cystic fibrosis.

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