The following is from a speech given by Mary Lindsey Hannahan at the “Breathe for Life” gala in benefit of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Hello, everyone! My name is Mary Lindsey Hannahan. And I have Cystic Fibrosis, the common cause of which we are all here for. I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming, and helping make CF stand for “Cure Found”. Cystic Fibrosis gets no federal funding, so it is because of caring people like you that new treatments are funded. Only about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. have CF. CF affects mainly the lung and digestive systems. My body produces way more mucus than it should. This clogs the airways in my lungs and prevents the white blood cells from coming out and doing their job, which is fighting the multitude of extra germs that get stuck in all the mucus. In my digestive system, the mucus blocks the digestive enzymes from doing what they should do, digest my food. I take about 50 pills every day, and I have to take pills every single time I touch any sort of substance that even closely resembles food to my mouth. This is because I want to be able to digest the food, so before I eat I have to take digestive enzymes. Otherwise, I might be extremely malnourished.
I go in the hospital about once a year. I have had sinus surgery three times, because Cystic Fibrosis not only affects my lungs and digestive system, no no, that would be much to easy to deal with. It also affects my sinuses. I was in the hospital last week for my sinuses and my lungs, actually. Then I had to be on two weeks worth of IV antibiotics. I’m actually on IV antibiotics right now. Most people with CF have to go into the hospital multiple times in a year. I’m a lucky one, as ironic as that sounds. Because of people like you, everyone with CF’s quality of life is so much improved. We don’t get sick as often and the infections are easier to treat. The average life span of someone with CF goes up a year, every year. Right now it’s at 38. This seems really young, and it is. But it’s practically ancient compared to what the life span was about fifteen years ago.
The reason this means so much to me is because it would grant me my wish that I have consistently wished for on every birthday cake and in every night time prayer since I was diagnosed with this disease at two years old. I try as hard as I can to remain positive and up beat every day. But as I get older, and the disease progresses, it proves extremely difficult to do so. But I try because, to be honest, this is an unpredictable disease, and who knows when I won’t have that chance anymore? My one single wish is to wake up one morning and not think, “when would it be most convenient to do my treatments or take my pills before breakfast?” I don’t want to skip them because I want to, and have the guilty thought of “I shouldn’t have skipped those today” in the back of my mind. I want to skip them because I don’t need them anymore. I want to be free from the confining barriers of this disease. I want to be able to be like all my friends, and not make them sit for an hour every morning and night I stay with them so I can stay somewhat healthy. I want to be able to laugh wholeheartedly and not have a coughing fit afterwards. I want to be able to run and not cough and be out of breath after a short time.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to grant my biggest, and every other person’s with Cystic Fribrosis’s wish. So thank you, once again, for everything you have done to aid me and others with this disease in making this dream a reality.
– Mary Lindsey Hannahan