27 Year Old With Advanced Cystic Fibrosis Sings Mozart

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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CF and opera

An incredible audio recording of Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro featuring a slideshow of pictures has been making its rounds on YouTube since it was uploaded on August 11, 2014. The beautiful vocals and pictures belong to 27-year-old aspiring singer, Wiktoria Lachowski of Calgary, Alberta — a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient currently hoping for a life-saving lung transplant.

In an exclusive interview with Cystic Fibrosis News Today, Wiktoria explained how singing is not just a hobby for her, but also a passion that fuels her drive to stay healthy and live her life to the fullest. “Singing is the one thing that makes me relaxed and it soothes my soul,” she explained. “It has a profound benefit on my lungs as well — in keeping them strong. I cannot live without my voice and music. It is my life.” Beginning in September 2015, Wiktoria will begin attending music school for voice to further develop her talent.

After listening to Wiktoria’s recent recording, anyone would find it difficult to believe that it was recorded when her lung function was already down to 33%. For most CF patients with this level of disease progression, it would be a cough-filled struggle just to finish a stanza of the piece. Yet, with the help and support of talented friends and CF advocates, her beautiful recording has become a reality: “I recorded this aria by Mozart in Victoria, British Columbia. My good friend Viktor Szczurek is part of PK Band with 4 other members. He introduced me to Joe Bannok Jack who is one of the band members and he recorded and mixed my aria” In addition to having an inspired voice, Wiktoria has also played the piano since she was 9. Thanks to her new musical effort, Lachowski is hopeful she can still fulfill her childhood dream to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer.

When Lachowski was 9 years old, she placed first at the Calgary Kiwanis Festival. Her disease continued to progress, and made it more and more difficult for her to pursue her passion for singing until she developed a chronic cough that got in the way of singing entirely.

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Back in 2006, she had to undergo a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to staple her lungs to her chest wall to prevent them from constantly collapsing. As of 2011, her lung function has been reduced to 26%, and she made the decision to get back to singing regardless of her disease and its daily challenges. Part of staying one step ahead of CF is following the latest-breaking developments for treating the disease:  “I do follow research a lot,” she noted to Cystic Fibrosis News Today, ”but what really gave me a lot of hope recently was to learn that Kalydeco was developed for only a few of the CF mutations. Unfortunately, I happen to have the DeltaF508 mutation, which is the most common. But it does give me a lot of hope.”

Lachowski uploaded her song recording to YouTube hoping to be an inspiration to others living with the disease, and spread the message that being sick is no reason for anyone to give up on their dreams.

“I believe that once a person has found their passion, their gift it makes them happier about themselves, their success and with that their confidence rises and a person is left stronger to face any health condition,” Wiktoria concluded. “It is very important to follow your dreams. I have learnt that almost two years ago when I came back to singing. It is in me. This is what I was made to do in my life”

This disease has served to inspire many people from all walks of life to take charge of their condition, live life to the fullest, and give back to the CF community. In California, another young CF patient named Claire Wineland founded the Claire’s Place Foundation, and was recently awarded “Small Nonprofit Organization of the Year” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

A CF patient named Beau Rich set out on a cross-country journey to serve as a role model to fellow CF patients. He has continuously documented his trek across the US to show that cystic fibrosis is not a reason to cut out physical activity and travel from one’s life.

An unconventional, but extremely fun method of treatment for CF patients comes recommended from Australia — surfing. Local physicians noted significantly better lung function in their patients that surfed regularly, as inhaling a bit of salt water is similar to instilling a saline solution in the lungs. It rehydrates the mucosal lining of the pulmonary structures and loosens mucosal build up, making clearance easier and reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections.