David and I met in 1999. We had business classes together in Merrill Hall at Jacksonville State University and we were both student workers in Bibb Graves. Our first date was a lunch date at The Rocket. He missed his mouth with a ketchup-covered French fry. I laughed at him and before the meal was over I choked on a pickle slice! I think we both knew on that first date that we were made for each other! We had been dating about a month when David told me that he has CF. I didn't know a lot about CF so I did some research, most of which (at that time) resulted in my finding information about Camp Sunshine. Over the months to come, I began to learn about CF more deeply as I observed David's determination to live a "normal" life as a college student. Nine months later, David proposed marriage. I remember telling my parents that I didn't know how much time I would have with him, but that I wanted however much time God had planned to give me. This May, David and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage. In July and October, we will celebrate the children that God has given us. Later in November, David will celebrate his 46th birthday. And each day I thank God for another day that he has given me with David.
Currently, David is on a host of medicines in his fight to live with CF. David takes about 35 pills a day (245 pills a week, 1064 or so pills a month, and about 12,775 pills a year). These pills help David digest his food, fight acid reflux, balance liver enzymes, reduce inflammation, maintain normal vitamin levels, and manage blood pressure. David spends 4-6 hours a day doing chest physical therapy and other airway clearance therapies. This includes hours hooked up to a chest vest, inhaling antibiotics, and nebulizing medications. On top of this, David checks his blood sugar 8-10 times a day, adjusting insulin levels according to highs and lows and otherwise managing his diabetes (including pump management, infusion site management, etc.). David also spends time each day cleaning and medicating his sinuses. When David is fighting an active infection or is having some kind of bacterial exacerbation, all of this (pills, therapies, inhaled meds, diabetic management, etc.) increases. You can imagine how exhausting and how limiting this is for him. He has to take frequent naps to recover from severe coughing fits to clear the mucus plugs and otherwise thick mucus from his lungs. Life with CF is really hard, but he is thankful for his life.
David doesn’t waste his CF. He encourages parents of young children with CF. He serves, as he is able, on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Alabama Chapter Board. He participated in the inaugural groups that are now CF Peer Connect and Community Voice, which are programs for people with CF. David does all he can to advocate for others with CF and for people with other rare diseases. David speaks about the challenges he faces in life while sharing about the undeserved grace and goodness God has demonstrated towards him. David leads his family, he encourages me and enables me to do all I’ve dreamed for. He loves our children and strives to train them to live a godly life. David is a son to loving parents who made countless sacrifices to do all they could to help David live. He is a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a grandson, an uncle, a brother-in-law, and a son-in-law. David is a friend and mentor.
A lot of progress is being made in the fight against CF. There are some therapies that are really making a difference for some people with CF. David is on a modulator, Trikafta, which helps to restore the function of the defective protein in my DNA that causes CF. But we don’t want to keep treating CF. We want to END CF. To end CF, we are focused on gene editing therapies – removing the genetic mutation that causes CF and replacing it with a normal sequence of DNA. This research is underway, but can only continue with ongoing fundraising. Research that focuses on complications of CF must also continue (infections, inflammation, mucus, diabetes, etc.).
The good news is that YOU can make a difference. Your donation can help find a cure for CF, and may also result in advances in research for people with other rare diseases. Please give today – big or small. I’d be honored to also have you join my team and help me raise funds for David and the 33,000 others living with CF in the U.S.