(CBS Charlotte) — Cystic Fibrosis, also known as CF, is a genetic disorder that affects various organs throughout the body. The disease is most known for causing lung complications, and people who are diagnosed with CF often have trouble breathing.
People who have CF are also prone to infections, and frequently undergo treatment for their disease. CF affects people of all ages and there is currently no cure for CF — but management of the disease has improved over the last few decades. In honor of May being Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, we spoke to a local resident about her battle with CF. Amity Furr was diagnosed with CF when she was three years old, and over the past year, her lung function has drastically decreased. She is currently 23-years-old, resides in Concord, North Carolina, and is looking forward to marrying her best friend later this year. While Amity’s battle with CF can be emotionally draining at times, she remains positive and hopeful that she will overcome her disease.
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Here is Amity’s story:
Q. How has CF changed your life?
A. The biggest way is by bringing so many amazing people into my life. Since I battled this disease, growing up I always felt the “why me” feeling, but I’ve learned that there are social media sites made just for people who battle this disease. Through those sites, Twitter, and other social media sites, I have been able to meet so many amazing people who have become not only a huge help, but have also become close friends of mine. I have been introduced to many nurses and doctors who have become closer to me than just the hospital life. They have become friends of mine, people who I can count on at anytime. This disease may take a lot from me, but it has also given me some of the most important people in my life. CF has made me look at life from a completely different aspect. I now know that each breath I am given is a blessing. No one is promised tomorrow, but with cystic fibrosis, we know that each moment is an amazing thing — the chance to create another memory with the ones we love. I’ve been given an amazing fiance and he has shown me that he loves me more for my disease, because he has seen how strong it has made me and the courage it has given me. I have the most amazing support team, family, and friends I could ask for. They lift me up when I need it the most and they NEVER make me feel like I’m any different for having this disease. If anything, they make me feel like I’m special because I have this. I’ve always been told, “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors,” and that’s a quote I live by. I feel lucky that God chose ME to fight this disease. I feel like he knows I can beat it.
Q. Are there things that you cannot do because of your disease?
A. At the rate my illness has progressed, it has made it nearly impossible for me to work. Due to hospitalizations every 6 to 8 weeks, holding a “normal” job doesn’t work in my favor. Employers aren’t very optimistic about having an employee who needs to be out 1-2 weeks at a time for each treatment. Another is exercise and simple tasks around the house. Exercise for me is walking 5-10 minutes without becoming short of breath. On a good day, that is a huge accomplishment. On the days that feel the worst, just getting up and walking to the bathroom or kitchen, can take a large amount of energy from me. I think the thing that CF has most kept me from is being able to live out my dream career. I’ve wanted to become a nurse all my life and help children with sicknesses have the motivation I was given as a child. Unfortunately, being a nurse and working with sick children isn’t in the cards for me, due to the weakness of my immune system over the past five years.
Q. If you could tell people one thing about CF, what would it be?
A. CF is not government funded. The only way research is funded, is by the caring and supportive people who help and donate. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation accepts donations all year long on their website. The money goes toward finding a cure and helping with finding of new medications that can help and prolong the lives of people living with CF. Right now, the life expectancy for people with Cystic Fibrosis is 30′s-40′s. While some are lucky enough to make it longer than that, others struggle to even make it out of their early 20′s. Research is desperately needed, but can only be done with the funds to do so.
Q. What would you tell other people battling CF or similar diseases, to help them to stay strong?
A. I would like to let them know that even at your darkest moments, when it feels like you can’t fight anymore… KEEP BREATHING. Cystic Fibrosis may be a huge part of our lives, but it isn’t our WHOLE life. We have greater things in this life to look forward to. I want them to know that they are not alone. While this disease is a tough and trying one, we are meant to fight hard, with everything we have.
Closing: “I encourage everyone to take the time and help out with the Cystic Fibrosis community. There are always CF walks all over the country in different states. Walks that help raise money for the foundation. May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, and I encourage people to do some research about CF and learn how it affects the lives of those living with it, their families, and their friends. If anyone would like to follow me on twitter, I post day to day updates on my health, on things going on in the CF community, and research that is being made. Cystic Fibrosis is a life threatening disease and everyone battling it deserves the chance to live a long, healthy life that others are given the chance to do. I am lucky enough to have the chance to marry my best friend and walk down the aisle with him, come September. I want that same dream to be a reality to so many other people. Donations and research have brought Cystic Fibrosis so far in the 23 years since I was born. I want to see the research go even further. I hope that one day CF is a thing of the past. I just hope that by spreading the word and my story, I can help someone, somewhere want to make a difference.”
Want to help Amity with her battle with CF? Click here.
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte