31 Days of CF: CF Has Changed My Life for the Better

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31 Days of CF

Photo courtesy of Jessica Francis

Day 14 of 31

This is Jessica Francis’ story:

Eight years ago, I knew almost nothing about cystic fibrosis. When I joined the CF clinical research team at the University of Utah in July 2013, I had no idea that it would change my life.

I was lucky enough to enter CF research during what could be called the golden era of CFTR modulators. Ivacaftor had just been approved by the FDA for certain mutations and it was literally changing lives. At the time, I had no concept of how groundbreaking these medications were, not just for CF but for pharmaceuticals in general. 

The turning point in my CF education occurred when I attended the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference, conveniently held in Salt Lake City in 2013. I learned more in three days than I had in the previous five months. My biggest takeaway was how the CF community is cohesive, driven, and incredibly welcoming. 

Since that conference, I have been privileged to become a part of the community. In addition to my work as a research coordinator on more than a dozen clinical trials, I’ve participated in Great Strides, presented at conferences, and helped start the adult patient advisory board at our care center.

Most importantly, I have met countless incredible people both with and without CF, many of whom I now call friends. I’ve worked with study participants from ages 14 months to 50+ years. I’ve been able to see some incredible things that I didn’t even know were possible eight years ago, including the approval of the latest CFTR modulator, “the triple combo.” 

CF research isn’t always easy. Not every new therapy produces groundbreaking results, and those that do don’t always work for every patient. In spite of the difficulties, it is the CF community that motivates me every day to keep moving forward.

I am privileged and humbled to contribute to such an amazing cause, and as strange as it sounds, I am grateful CF came into my life. It has completely changed it in the best way.

Cystic Fibrosis News Today’s 31 Days of CF campaign will publish one story per day for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month in May. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofCF, or go here to see the full series.