How One Conversation Led Me to Being More Intentional About My Life

By: Ella Balasa

Would I ever live long enough to fall in love? Would I be able to graduate college? Would I be remembered for making some kind of impact on the world before I was gone? Would I get to travel to destinations where the breaking waves crashed against a rocky shore and the sea mist sprayed as I breathed deeply, and beside me stood …

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I’m startled back to reality. I sit in a hospital bed, surrounded by my parents in chairs on either side of me. I’m on the lumpy foam mattress, where I sit cross legged and my butt sinks at least 4 inches straining my back and adding to the pain the past few weeks — and this conversation — have caused me. My dad sits, lips pursed as normal when he listens intently. We are all listening to my doctor talk about my declining health, about my recent episode of pneumonia, and what my future may hold.

“No one knows the future,” I think, as the doctor speaks. My mind jumps again to that ocean scene, only it isn’t me standing on the shore, I’m now observing the scene from above, as if in spirit. Observing a couple embrace and I feel a strange sense of sadness, anger, and jealousy.

“It’s time to consider a lung transplant.” Those words, uttered from my pediatric CF doctor 6 years ago, made me, in an instant, think about all the joys of life I hadn’t gotten to experience yet.

Why me? That’s the first thought many people have when they can’t accept the reality of what’s happening. We try to answer unanswerable questions.

Later that summer, my parents and I followed doctors’ advice and scheduled a week-long transplant evaluation. A week of what I still consider to be grueling medical tests, even compared to other lung complications I have developed since. In the end, the transplant evaluators concluded I was not quite in the transplant window at the time. That fall, my health started to stabilize. I started my second year of college and I felt myself withdraw from the world.

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Improving Mental Health Within the CF Community

By: Ella Balasa

Having cystic fibrosis makes life sometimes stressful, sometimes lonely, sometimes painful, and oftentimes scary. But it can also make life seem more valuable, brighter, more optimistic, and more fun.

Figuring out how to balance the good and the bad, and come out from tough situations on the positive end can be challenging, especially without support from others. This includes support from family and friends who are physically there for us every day, and support from within the CF community, those who empathize in fighting this disease.

I’ve been very fortunate to have both of these kinds of support. Unfortunately, many who fight CF do it alone, without the support of many family members, friends, or spouses. Many also have yet to connect with the CF community online — either they aren’t on social media platforms or aren’t interested.

According to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation guidelines, CF patients are not to be within 6 feet of each other under any circumstances. They are encouraged to avoid being in the same vicinity at all. This is to prevent cross-infection, the transference of antibiotic-resistant bacteria between patients, which could spread more sickness around the CF population.

While this precaution is in place for our health benefit, it isn’t conducive to real-life friendships among individuals. This can create feelings of isolation, sadness, and the belief that no one understands, and combined with a potential lack of physical support from friends and family, it can be a recipe for serious mental health issues.

Everyone needs physical relationships. We all need someone’s embrace when we’re hurting. In a CF perspective, the hurt can be physical (such as lung pains or fevers) or mental (when we’ve hit a brick wall or the optimism we have that the next day will be better has faded).

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CF Roundtable invites you to write for the upcoming issue!

CF Roundtable invites adults with CF to write for our Spring 2018 issue. All submissions are due on March 15th.

The Focus Topic is “Maintaining Mental Health With CF”. Some questions to ponder as you write are:  Does your CF affect your mental state? What do you do to deal with it? Do you have any information to share with our readers on how to deal with depression or other mental conditions that are caused by having CF? Continue reading CF Roundtable invites you to write for the upcoming issue!

Sign up for BreatheCON Sept 8th and 9th!

By Jeanie Hanley MD, President of USACFA and
John Mercer, BreatheCon 2017 Co-Chair

Sign up today for this FREE virtual event for adults with cystic fibrosis.

Our USACFA director, Mark Levine, is a featured Keynote Speaker on Friday and our CF Roundtable columnists, Aimee Continue reading Sign up for BreatheCON Sept 8th and 9th!

These are the health benefits of spending time by the ocean

https://m.mic.com/articles/181359/these-are-the-health-benefits-of-spending-time-by-the-ocean#.UVNSy7ncP

The sea is miraculous. Just the sight of the seemingly boundless body of water is humbling for many. And in the 18th century, the ocean was often regarded as a panacea, with doctors prescribing drinking a pint of sea water to cure Continue reading These are the health benefits of spending time by the ocean

Making it Matter Ep. 31—Julia Recovers From the Stomach Flu

The past few days for Julia have been rough! She was dealing with the stomach flu, but now she’s better (yay!). So in order to get her back on her feet, we decide to launch the first ever Making it Continue reading Making it Matter Ep. 31—Julia Recovers From the Stomach Flu

Making it Matter Ep. 27 – Can Drug Development be a Stress Point?

Drug discovery and development in the cystic fibrosis community is moving at an incredible pace. With that, though, comes a feel of stress or anxiety, as the science behind all of this is both complex and constantly moving through seemingly never ending clinical trials. For Continue reading Making it Matter Ep. 27 – Can Drug Development be a Stress Point?

OWN IT: Do People With Cystic Fibrosis Experience FOMO?

Full disclosure here; I’m writing this while doing my treatments. In fact, I just stuck a syringe into a vial of sterile water, drew some out and then injected it into vial containing powdered medicine. Continue reading OWN IT: Do People With Cystic Fibrosis Experience FOMO?

Making it Matter Ep. 24 – Dealing with Disease Progression

Julia and I take a question from my most recent Facebook Live on the Boomer Esiason Foundation page, which asks about the progression of cystic fibrosis and how we deal with it.

Since cystic fibrosis is a progressive disease, it can take an emotional Continue reading Making it Matter Ep. 24 – Dealing with Disease Progression

Cystic fibrosis: a treatment could nest in the starfish

The oceans are full of molecules capable of treating many diseases. One of them, roscovitine, could be effective against cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic disease that affects nearly 6,500 French. It is currently being evaluated. Continue reading Cystic fibrosis: a treatment could nest in the starfish