It’s a diagnosis that affects nearly 40,000 Americans. Cystic fibrosis is often thought of as a childhood disease, but doctors say more adults than children are now living with the disease.
At 16 years old, Danica Murray works to balance a normal life of homework and theatre rehearsals. Since she was two-years-old, she’s been living with cystic fibrosis. “I’ve always grown up with taking treatments and taking pills and it’s just kind of a part of my routine. I get up every morning several hours early to do all the treatments I need to do and every once in a while I go to the hospital and get IVs done.”
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes patients to have sticky mucus in the lungs causing bacterial infections and chronic pneumonia. Dr. Patrick Maeng, a pediatric pulmonologist with Lee Health, says while there are thousands of mutations, most patients with CF have extensive daily treatments and a weak immune system. “We’ve made a lot of advances in the disease and so we’re really lengthening the course of people’s lives and the quality as well.”
In addition to their treatments, patients with CF typically need high calorie meals as many have a difficult time maintaining a healthy weight. “We encourage high fat, high protein, high calorie diet. The better their weight status, the healthier their lungs will be, and the longer their survival rate is going to be,” said Dr. Maeng.
Staying loyal to their medication and treatments and maintaining an active lifestyle are also critical to their health.
“As optimistic as I like to be there’s always going to be an end of the day where I have to understand that life is short and I can’t always do the activities I want to do,” said Danica.
Danica and her doctors stay hopeful that more treatments will become available, giving patients an even better quality and quantity of life.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.