As someone who has had very few medical ailments, it is difficult to wrap my head around a Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis. Having only been in a hospital for the birth of both of my children, I happen to be a stranger to a lot of the medical world. When a young friend with a chronic cough tells me they have Cystic Fibrosis, it leaves me so many questions; many more than what is appropriate to ask, including some that are rather morbid. If you aren’t familiar with Cystic Fibrosis, it is a chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. There is no cure, and the average life expectancy is just over 40 years. Being a friend to someone with Cystic Fibrosis can be a challenge, but can also be rather rewarding.
5 Ways to be a Friend to Someone with Cystic Fibrosis
As someone who only knows about CF through a high school science class, it was important to find information about CF and what it truly means to a person. Do your research, and don’t rely on those who have been diagnosed to fill you in.
Being diagnosed with CF seems like a death sentence for most. It is information overload and can be absolutely mind numbing. There is no reason to talk about the diagnosis with your friend. Just be there. Sit with them, let them cry, let them scream, let them be happy. Whatever they choose to do, let them take the lead and just be there no matter what.
Patients with CF are at an increased risk of infection and cross-contamination, often isolated from others. These patients frequently report high levels of depression and increased anxiety, which do not help with disease severity and outcomes following treatment. (1)(2) The best thing you can do for a person with CF is treat them the same as everyone else. The feelings of isolation and feeling different than everyone else can take a toll on a friend’s mental well being.
If you or a family member are sick, the very best thing that you can do for a friend with Cystic Fibrosis is to stay away. A compromised immune system is not something to mess with, and any illness can and will be amplified in a patient with CF.
Take the initiative and find out about any local or state Cystic Fibrosis advocacy programs. Use the knowledge that you have gained through your education and your friendship to be a voice for CF.
Each person diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis will present with the illness in different ways, and severity can vary between those who are carriers. Treatments exist that allow patients to live as normal of a life as possible. It is a complex disease affecting approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States. (1) There is a chance that you know someone or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I don’t consider myself as a “friends to someone with Cystic Fibrosis.” I just consider myself a friend. Why put a label on it? I want to be a champion for Cystic Fibrosis, and with Walgreens, I can be a CF Champion. Do you want to be a champion, too? Check out the Walgreen’s CF Champions site and see all of the ways they help to shape the lives and futures of those diagnosed with CF.
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Patient registry annual data report 2013. https://www.cff.org/2013_CFF_Patient_Registry_Annual_Data_Report.pdf. Published October, 2013. Accessed November 3, 2015.
- Wohletz MC. Cystic fibrosis: optimizing outcomes via team-based care. Pharmacy Practice News. www.pharmacypracticenews.com/SE2014. Published November 2014. Accessed October 23, 2015.