9 Things Cystic Fibrosis Taught Me About Life
My mom has always said that “in adversity there is blessing.” For Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month I wanted to share the golden nuggets of wisdom I’ve been blessed to learn while living with cystic fibrosis (CF).
Even though it’s been four years since I had a double-lung transplant, I still use these life skills. And I’ve learned that amid the traumatic experiences of CF are many positive life lessons. Following are nine things I’ve learned about life, due to my journey with CF.
CF has grounded me in my faith in God. So much of my life has required me to surrender to something greater than me. Rooting myself in a spiritual practice is something tangible I can hold on to when my life is falling apart. I’ve drawn so much strength and comfort from knowing God and applying the principles of the Christian faith, which has carried me through my darkest days.
Living with CF also has given me exceptional empathy for others. I know what it’s like to live with chronic illness, mental health struggles, and dances with death. This gives me credibility to provide comfort and counsel to others experiencing similar situations.
I developed my counseling skills on a deeper level due to living with CF. It’s the most natural ability I have. Since I’ve lived through hard seasons, I understand people intimately and am able to provide therapeutic tools to others in need, which is something I’m passionate about.
In seasons of sickness, I’ve been blessed not to be able to work. During those seasons, I was able to spend significant time with my grandmother before she passed. I was available to take care of my nephews. I got the chance to more deeply connect with my parents, who have been present through every health season. And I was able to develop my identity and character in a manner that wasn’t based solely on my career.
I learned that control is an illusion. When my health was out of control, I learned how little control I actually had. That gave me the grace to let go and avoid worrying about what I can’t control. Instead, I focused on what I could. This shift helped ease my anxiety drastically.
Flexibility became a vital skill for me to cultivate. Since most of my life was out of my control, I quickly learned to go with the flow. If I was rigid or set in my ways, transitions and adjustments to new normals were painful. Being flexible to do whatever it took to shift directions helped me make a smoother adjustment to health declines.
Throughout the declines in health and respiratory failure I experienced, I was often isolated. Whether I was hospitalized or stuck at home because I was sick, I learned to thrive by myself. I leaned into my passions, developed coping strategies for health changes, and learned more about who I was and wanted to be.
Creativity was birthed through my seasons in isolation. While I was sick, I had time to write in journals or on my laptop from the comfort of my bed. I got to fine-tune my writing skills and grow in the direction I wanted to.
CF taught me that it’s OK to be who I am. I’ve always known that I was different than most, and it took a great deal of growing and healing to be fully comfortable being my authentic self. It took a number of years to find my tribe of people who understand me and the way I live, but I now have a community that is safe and allows me to fully be myself, which is a gift.
My journey with CF has been like riding an erratic roller coaster, and the twists and turns were never predictable. But despite the chaotic hard times, I’m grateful I gained valuable wisdom that I treasure. The life lessons continue, but these nine are among my favorites, and Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to share them.
What are some of the efforts you’ll be making to promote awareness during Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.