31 Days of CF: Self-acceptance Helped Save My Life

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by BNS Staff |

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Stephanie Stavros, her son Grey, and husband, Jim (Courtesy of Stephanie Stavros)

Day 8 of 31

This is Stephanie Stavros’s story:

It’s been my experience that living with cystic fibrosis (CF) requires that you prioritize your mental health just as much as your physical health. It’s a delicate balance.

For 34 years, I kept my health struggle a secret. No one outside my direct family and a few friends knew that I was born with CF. For decades, one of my greatest fears in life was the everyone would find out. I was so ashamed.

This all stemmed from a strong state of denial. I naively thought that if I controlled the dialogue about my health, then I controlled the outcome. I didn’t set out to create a storyline full of lies, it just snowballed from trying to keep my struggle private.

I was disappointed and angry in my body. I had nightmares that people would find out about my CF. The weight of the secret was breaking me faster than my disease.

It was too much. I was being evaluated for a double-lung transplant in secret and I was absolutely terrified. Something had to give.

Through therapy and a great deal of self-discovery, I worked tremendously hard to find self-acceptance. I summoned the courage to tell my story on my personal blog, @rosielifewithgrey.

To my surprise, the universe didn’t crack in half when the world knew my secret. The secret that had grown into an all-consuming beast was finally released. I was free of the shame, just in time to raise my voice and fight for my life.

Fast-forward to the present day and I’ve co-founded a CF movement (@cfgetloud) and have publicly shared my story on live shows, podcasts, and books and interviews. It’s amazing what you can do when you let go of self-hate and find compassion for yourself.

Self-acceptance helped save my life. It helped me understand that my life is worth saving and my future is yet to be written. Where would I be today if I stayed quiet?

Share your story. You never know who’s listening. It could change your life and help others feel less alone.


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 read the full series.