Dear Family, Friends, and Co-workers,
Many of you are used to letters from my grandma (Nana), asking for your much-needed support in our fight against Cystic Fibrosis. This year, I decided to be the one to reach out to you through this platform. The past few years, while difficult at times, have taught me a lot about living and growing with CF. I would like to personally ask for your help, as these years have given me a very real, deep understanding of why it is incredibly crucial. Although I've come a long way working to become more comfortable, open, and honest about my CF, sometimes it is still challenging to put my voice out there. However, I am one of over 70,000 CF-fighters who need a cure, and my story should be heard.
When I was young, I was healthy enough that Cystic Fibrosis, to me, basically meant doing respiratory therapy and taking some pills before eating. CF was my Vest. CF was my enzymes. The hospitalizations were so infrequent that I really didn't think much about them. I understand that I am extremely blessed to be able to say this. Many children with CF have faced realities that I still have yet to encounter. However, the past two winters, I was hospitalized for CF-related complications. I saw my lung function take a plunge that I had never seen before. I went through periods of illness so long that I forgot what it was like to feel good. I didn't have the energy to want to go to school, dance or be with friends. Seeing, and more importantly feeling, what I had heard all along was imminent was a harsh realization. I recall telling my mom last year that I felt like I had just been diagnosed with CF.
Seeing my health decline in those times honestly infuriated me. Before a few years ago, I thought that I was the exception to the rule and that my efforts to stay healthy couldn't fail. What I've learned is that Cystic Fibrosis can be ruthless. To my dismay, even perfect compliance to therapies and making every concerted effort to stay healthy doesn't mean that my body won't fail me at times.
That being said, breakthroughs in medicine and therapy have kept me at a level of health that has allowed me to continue doing things I love and things I have dreamed of and planned on. I'm a freshman at St. Norbert College, a school I absolutely love. I have an internship in my area of study which I enjoy. I have met so many wonderful people in the past year, and I have grown in many ways I am proud of.
Even in the face of the challenges CF presents me, I know that I am generally healthy enough to do the things that make me happy because of how far research for Cystic Fibrosis has come. Al of the breakthroughs in the CF community are because of people like you whose generosity continues to overwhelm me each and every year that my family and I ask for your help. Although we have come a long way, we still have further to go in our fight. As one of the CF-fighters who needs a cure, I ask you to help us reach our goal: To make CF stand for Cure Found.
(granddaughter of Karen Kroening)