Vote Like Your Life Depends On It! It Does.

By Beth Sufian, JD

Vote like your life depends on it Tuesday because if you have cystic fibrosis it does!

I did not think I needed to write an article about how important voting on November 6th is to people with CF, but last week I realized I was wrong.  I had discussions with some people with CF who did not understand the importance of the election to the CF community. I started to explain that if there are no changes in who is serving in Congress, the Affordable Care Act will be repealed in 2019.

We saw how close Congress came to repealing the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) last year. Senator John McCain was our hero when he voted against the repeal of the ACA. Senator McCain lost his own battle with cancer this year and he will not be able to save us again. To be safe we need 3-4 new Senators and 23-26 new members of the House who will protect the ACA.

Everyone with CF and everyone who loves a person with CF should be spending the next two days getting out the vote for candidates who will protect our ability to access the care and the medication we need to fight CF.

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed it will become impossible for large numbers of people with CF to access the health insurance policies or government programs we need to pay for our care and the expensive medications that are improving the lives of children and adults with CF.  Last week we heard from the Republican majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell who said that in 2019 he pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to both reduce the number of people who are eligible, and to restrict coverage under Medicaid and Medicare.

Many in the CF community mistakenly believe that the ACA does not apply to them because they have a private health insurance policy. The protections of the ACA apply to all private insurance policies. Here are just some protections the ACA provides to people with CF.

  1. The right to keep a parent’s health insurance coverage until a young adult turns 26.
  2. No lifetime caps on coverage.
  3. A maximum out of pocket amount.
  4. No pre-existing condition exclusions.
  5. 45 services that must be covered.
  6. The option for a state to expand Medicaid to low-income adults.

Without the ACA all of these provisions and many more protections go away.

Recent data show that at any given time at least 50 percent of children and adults with CF are enrolled in Medicaid.  Even if you have private health insurance, the loss of Medicaid by people with CF will still affect you. If 50 percent of our population does not have coverage for medication or treatment it will be impossible for companies and health care providers to deliver medications and treatment to the rest of us.  There will not be enough people who will be able to pay for care and medication. All people with CF will be negatively affected if the ACA is repealed.

If you have made other plans on November 6th I urge you to reschedule. There is no other event that should take precedence over the fate of health care for those with CF. We should all be coming together to make sure when we wake up on November 7th we know we did everything we could to protect the rights of people CF.

We ALL need to be getting out the vote on Tuesday. What does that mean? We need to be reaching out to friends and family members and explain why this election is so important to the CF community.

We need to reach out to campaigns who need our help block walking, phone banking and texting to get voters to the polls. We need to make sure everyone we know has a way to get to the polls. Many important races will be won by only a few votes. Every hour you spend getting out the vote now counts, there is no going back after the election is over.

This is the most important election of our lifetime.

Please join me in assuring that we have done everything we can for everyone in the CF community to continue to have the legal right to access insurance coverage. So many worked so hard to develop the excellent CF Care Center system. So many have spent their lives researching and discovering medications to help ease the burden CF places on us. Let us honor the memories of those who have lost their battle with CF by making sure we explain to friends and relatives why their vote on Tuesday is so important.

On Tuesday, I will be available all day to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid or Medicare coverage or to connect people to the information they may need to vote. Please call me at 1-800-622-0385 if I can help. I am acting as a private citizen on Tuesday and not as a member of any organization. I hope my next post will be of me dancing in the street late Tuesday night celebrating all of our efforts to make sure that everyone with CF has a bright future.

Cystic Fibrosis Podcast 192 Emily’s Entourage

In the latest Cystic Fibrosis Podcast, Jerry speaks with Emily Kramer-Golinkoff about the role of a patient advocate organization in driving drug development in rare disease.
Emily, a 33-year-old who has a nonsense mutation of CF, is a co-founder of Emily’s Entourage, a 501 3(c) that’s goal is to accelerate research for new treatments and a cure for CF. She is an internationally recognized patient advocate and speaker, has a Master’s degree in Bioethics and is certified in Clinical Ethics Mediation, was named “Champion of Change” by President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, and has been featured by CNN.com, Time.com, AOL.com, People.com, and more for her work with her charity.

Continue reading Cystic Fibrosis Podcast 192 Emily’s Entourage

Jerry Cahill’s CF Podcast: The Pre-Transplant Process with Dr. Emily DiMango

The latest video in The Path Forward with Cystic Fibrosis series, Dr. Emily DiMango, Director of the Gunnar Esiason Adult CF Program at Columbia University Medical Center, discusses the lung transplant process through the lens of a CF doctor.

First, she reviews the importance of CF patients participating in drug trials in order to start life-changing medications sooner. She then answers the following questions:

· What does pre-transplant management look like for a CF patient?
· When is the right time to be referred to the list?
· What is the referral process like?

Finally, she reiterates the importance of well-rounded treatment that includes physical health, nutritional health, and emotional health.

This video was originally posted on JerryCahill.com

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness: Sharing A Story & The Facts

Cystic fibrosis is a devastating disease. About 30,000 children and adults have cystic fibrosis (CF) in The United States. While the life expectancy for someone with CF has doubled in the last 30 years, children and adults people still lose their lives to this disease every day. There is no cure yet. It’s time to find it.

How can you help? Use your voice and get involved! Participate in Great Strides walks and other events supporting CF and share the facts on social media and in your community. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is working hard to find a cure. Other foundations and organizations help the CF community as well. Like the CF Roundtable which supports adults with CF, there is a foundation that supports children and families living with CF: Claire’s Place Foundation.

Claire’s Place Foundation, founded by Claire Wineland, when she was just 14 years old, is a 501c3 non-profit organization designed to help children and families affected by cystic fibrosis. Claire was born with CF. In her short life, Claire has undergone more than 20 surgeries and has spent months at a time in the hospital.  She survived months in a coma on mechanical ventilation despite the odds and was also a Make-a-Wish recipient. She has 40% of ideal lung function and the doctors have estimated two years left to live. This is not, however, what characterizes or defines her. Claire has dedicated her life work to making a difference in the lives of others living with CF.

Now 21 years old as an adult living with CF, Claire’s Place Foundation is a way for Claire to give back with hope, strength, and joy.  She wants to live with intention and purpose. In her own words, “I know my life will be shorter so every day has meaning.”  She strives to find new ways to help the CF community and other children afflicted with chronic illness. Claire’s Place is making a huge impact through its two programs – The Extended Hospital Stay Fund and the Family Support Program.  These programs are in high demand and the foundation needs your donations to continue assisting young patients in need. You can meet Claire and support her foundation at her next fundraiser, “Glow Ride,” on August 18, 2018 in Hermosa Beach, CA.

To find others ways you can help bring awareness to CF find a local chapter near you.

Get involved. Donate. Come to events.

A Dutch Company on the Quest Against Cystic Fibrosis

An interview by:  Clara Rodríguez Fernández

Daniel de Boer founded ProQR in 2012 following a strong determination to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. We started ProQR Therapeutics for a very personal reason,” he told me. “Eight years ago, my son was born, and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. At that time, I was a serial entrepreneur in IT. I decided to make a career switch and start a company to develop drugs for cystic fibrosis, but then also for other genetic diseases.”

One would think that a person without a background in biotech might have it difficult to succeed, but de Boer is not the only to have so far successfully undertaken this endeavor. Over in France Karen Aiach built Lysogene to treat her daughter’s rare genetic disorder, while in the US the story of John Crawley and his company Amicus Therapeutics, founded to help his two children’s diagnosis, went so far as to inspire a movie. The determination and motivation of these parents seem to overdrive any challenges they might have faced because of their limited experience.

De Boer set out to create a business plan for his new company and found out that there was already quite a lot of activity, especially in approaches using small molecules or gene therapy.“We decided that we really wanted to add something new to the space, and take a completely novel approach.”

So he started looking for a new technology, and he found it. “Around that time, I met for the first time with some people in biotech, including the CEO at Alnylam, John Maraganore, and we talked about how they used RNA approaches for genetic diseases,” says de Boer.

Technologies targeting RNA are quite new compared to those that target DNA such as gene therapy. But RNA-based treatments have started to gain traction in the last few years. There are multiple ways that RNA can be used as a therapeutic, but its distinctive advantage over gene therapies and the likes is that it does not permanently change our genetic makeup, making it possible to reverse its effects.

Today, RNA technology is being tested in multiple rare diseases caused by genetic mutations, such as hemophilia, porphyria, or iron overload disorders. I thought, ‘if you can do that for all these other genetic diseases, why not for cystic fibrosis?’” says the Boer. “With that in mind, we started ProQR.”

For the rest of this article, please click here.

Thanks to The Boomer Esiason Foundation, CF Roundtable’s new Pearl Sustaining Partner

We would like to thank The Boomer Esiason Foundation for its continued support at the Pearl Sustaining Partner level. A special thank you goes out to BEF volunteer Jerry Cahill for helping make this grant possible. Because of this support, we can provide all of our CF Roundtable programs such as:

The Boomer Esiason Foundation helps support the CF community via its programs including:

  • Scholarships – BEF has numerous scholarship opportunities available
  • Lung Transplant Grant Program – covers transportation, housing and other expenses not covered by insurance that are related to transplant
  • You Cannot Fail – A motivation program that empowers people with CF
  • CF Podcasts – podcasts covering a wide variety of CF-related topics produced by Jerry Cahill
  • CF Wind Sprints – short videos by BEF Volunteer Jerry Cahill with tips for living with CF
  • Gunnar’s Blog – a personal blog of Gunnar Esiason, Boomer’s son, who has CF
  • Hospital Bags – goodie bags provided to CF patients of all ages during hospital stays
  • Team Boomer – encourages people with CF to be active by participating in events and helping to fundraise
  • Bike 2 Breathe – An annual 500-bike tour to raise awareness for the importance of exercise with CF
  • CF Century Rides – A personal goal of Jerry Cahill’s. Jerry is determined to do a century ride (100 miles bike ride) in all 50 states for CF!
  • CF: Live By Example – A pilot program where people with CF who are living, breathing, and succeeding will ensure parents of newly diagnosed children that CF is only a bump in the road, not a death sentence.
  • Club CF – an online forum where people with CF can share their stories

For more information on The Boomer Esiason Foundation please visit: https://www.esiason.org/

Introducing our Newest Board Members!

Rachel Steinman

Hi! My name is Rachel Steinman, I’m 29 years old, and I’m super excited to be a member of the USACFA board.

I was diagnosed with CF at the age of 16 and have been very fortunate to have had fairly stable health throughout my life thus far. 

No matter one’s level of health, USACFA is an important outlet for our community. CF is a complicated disease and it affects every patient in a unique way. For me, having an online community has helped me both learn more about this disease, and feel less isolated in the process. 

I graduated from the University of Miami with degrees in Journalism and Sociology in 2009, and I spent a year volunteering with Americorps shortly after. A few years into my career I decided to quit my job and move to Tel Aviv, Israel for a change of lifestyle and a marketing position with a tech company. I moved back home to NY after a year to be close to my family.

I grew up on Long Island and currently reside in NYC with my boyfriend where I continue to work in digital marketing. I enjoy cooking, traveling with my boyfriend, and spending time with friends and family.

I believe I’ve been able to maintain good health with the help of a great team of doctors at Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan, a positive attitude towards life with CF, lots of acupuncture and cupping therapy, and a very loving, supportive family.

As a new member of the board, I’m excited to be joining both the blog and social media committees, so please look out for future posts from me!

Amy Sylvis

Hello! My name is Amy Sylvis and I am so grateful to be a member of the USACFA board. I have been an avid reader of the CF Roundtable since the late 90s and I am forever grateful for how much I have learned over the past 2 decades from the publication. I fiercely believe that all people with cystic fibrosis should have access to the best care and latest knowledge – and I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to this prestigious organization. My specific passions include hemoptysis, aspergillus, CFRD and decreasing quality of treatment variation across CF centers in the United States.

I am 36 years old, diagnosed at 6 months old. I earned my Bachelors of Science in Business and Bachelors of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California as well as my Masters in Business Administration from USC. I have worked full time mostly in biotech and pharma, which continues to be my passion despite my health forcing me to leave work in 2017. In my spare time you can find me reading non-fiction, watching college football and traveling. My husband and I were married in August 2017, and we live in Los Angeles, CA with our little cocker spaniel/dachshund mix.

TEDx talk: The Case for Realistic Optimism

The Case for Realistic Optimism

Have you ever struggled to stay positive when dealing with a sick loved one? When Ray’s wife Rebecca went into respiratory failure from end stage cystic fibrosis he was faced with this challenge. What he learned was that choosing to be realistically optimistic helped him to remain strong for Rebecca during Continue reading TEDx talk: The Case for Realistic Optimism

PMD Healthcare Announces Two New Patient Advisory Boards

PMD Healthcare, a medical device, digital health and chronic care management services company, has announced it is forming two new patient advisory boards: one for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients and caregivers of CF Children, and one for Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) patients and PF caregivers.

Continue reading PMD Healthcare Announces Two New Patient Advisory Boards

USACFA History: How a group of adults with CF helped create a community without computers, email, or the internet

By: Laura Mentch

Our story begins with Lisa McDonough, a young woman with CF. Lisa wanted to find a way for people with CF to connect with each other and share their thoughts and strategies related to living with CF. In 1989 she singlehandedly produced 4 issues of Roundtable, a newsletter for adults with CF. Lisa knew that she benefited from talking to people with CF on the phone or in CF clinic and she wanted other adults with CF to benefit from connecting and sharing information about living with CF, medications, and staying healthy. Continue reading USACFA History: How a group of adults with CF helped create a community without computers, email, or the internet