This beautiful drawing was created by my wonderful friend Sarah. It represents my life and what I’ve been through. This is my story.

 

I have Cystic Fibrosis. I was always a very sick child, in and out of hospital from a very young age. My parents almost lost me when I was 5 years old. It’s that dreaded moment a parent never wants to experience. Hearing the doctor tell you there is no longer anything they can do for your daughter, and she has roughly 3 months to live. My lungs were just so diseased for a 5 year old.

This just pushed my parents to explore other options in order to save me. They looked into alternative treatments and stumbled across Glutathione. A company in the U.S was trialling it on CF’s. My parents ordered the nebulised and oral form of this Glutathione and started me on it straight away while recording my progress. Little by little my lung function started to increase and I didn’t look so sickly anymore. I truly believe this herbal medication saved my life. I’ve had my life saved twice. While this medication kept my incredibly diseased lungs stable throughout my life (around 38% lung function), Cystic Fibrosis soon took its hold, and I was in end stage lung disease by the age of 21, in 2015. I was in need of a double lung transplant.

My call came on the 7th August 2015, while I was having a hospital admission at The Prince Charles hospital. On the morning of the 8th August, I had my life saved yet again, but this time by a complete stranger, who selflessly chose to have their organs donated in the event of their death. donate life logo

My recovery went incredibly well. My family and friends rallied around me during this time in prayer. I truly believe God got me through my recovery smoothly. 3 months later, I started back at work. It was shortly after that, I began feeling incredibly run down, lethargic and sickly. I then presented with intense stomach pains, temps, and bloating. I got admitted to hospital, so they could investigate. After many tests, and a liver biopsy, on Christmas Eve, my doctor told me the results showed that I have tumours and it was Lymphoma, a type of cancer. My whole world just collapsed. I couldn’t believe I’d been diagnosed with cancer.

I started treatment in January of 2016. That’s when I started losing my hair, which was part of my identity.

It’s hard losing something you love so much about yourself, that is a part of you. I felt like I wasn’t me anymore. I was this different person. The 3 intense rounds of chemotherapy were harsh. I kept getting infections in my gastrostomy peg because the chemo was destroying my white cells and causing me to have no immune system whatsoever. This caused infections, which were extremely painful. I had to present to emergency department several times for pain and for temperatures. I had 3 rounds of harsh chemo, and 4 rounds of Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is where they use one drug, that highlights the bad cancer cells in your body, so your immune system can attack them. In short, from January to June has been incredibly hard. The hardest year of my life. I had moments where I’ve felt defeated. I’ve wondered why I even went through transplant in the first place.

I hated life. I’ve wondered why God allowed this to happen to me. I’ve wondered if I will ever feel normal again after the toxic chemicals that have been pumped through my body. The only thing that’s kept me going is God, and my donor. Even though this awful thing has happened, God has still made things go smoothly for me. I’ve tolerated the chemo well, no nausea, no weight loss, not loss of appetite. My PET scan as early as March, showed my tumours had already gone, and had responded incredibly quickly to the chemo. He has kept my new lungs healthy and I’ve had no rejection. Just an amazing answer to prayer!

“Don’t underestimate your strength and resilience.”

It’s made me question life and why I want to be here; what is my purpose? I want to make my donor proud. I want them to know this gift isn’t wasted. I want them to know that despite my complications, I am grateful to be able to BREATHE. To not struggle walking up the stairs, or to brush my hair, or to simply make my bed. I want to show others that even though life throws some absolute curveballs in your path, you can get through it.

The human body is strong, the mind is strong.

The verse: Philippians 4:13- “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength”, is so true. I’ve lived that. philippians_4_13Cancer was horrendous, but God gave me the strength to get through it, and to inspire others a long the way. Despite all my adversities, I try to focus on positive things and my loves in life. I am a Florist, and I cannot wait to get back to work. I love gardening. I love cats. I love coffee. I love going to lunch with my friends. I love the transplant community who provide constant support. I love that my hair is growing back so I will get to try different hairstyles that I was too scared to try before it fell out. I love that, through all of what I’ve gone through, it makes me appreciate life more. Appreciate the small things. A warm day, a nice cup of coffee, having hair to brush. I believe most CF’s feel this way. It makes you look on life a whole lot differently to healthy people.

My journey has been tough. But I was tougher. I pushed on, I persevered, and I survived. I’m here today because God wants me to be here. I may not know the reason yet, or I may never know the reason, but I trust Him. I may have a big list of complications to my name, but at the end of it all; I am just a normal girl who is trying to make the most of life, enjoy life, and make her donor proud. Most people think “‘normal’ is boring. I think normal is great!

This drawing represents my journey in so many ways. The Rose represents Cystic Fibrosis (65 roses), the hair represents losing my hair to chemo, the flowers represent my love for flowers and gardening, and it’s all in the shape of lungs because without these new lungs, I wouldn’t be here telling my story.

So if I can give any advice it’s to keep persevering. Keep holding your head above water. Don’t underestimate your strength and resilience. Crap is going to happen, it always will. But how it ends depends on how you choose to view the battle and how you choose to fight it!

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