My name is Audrey Boissonneault, I’m 18 years old, and I’m from St-Hyacynthe, Quebec. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at two months old by my pediatrician, who was also a CF doctor. Life hasn’t been a walk in the park for me, but I think that’s makes me who I am. It makes me strong.
As a kid, all you want is to fit in, but having CF made that hard for me. I was bullied at school for having CF. Actually, I was bullied at school because people didn’t believe I had CF. Looking at me, people don’t always know I have a disease. They don’t know that I have a fatal disease. But I do, and every day is a fight to maintain my health with the treatments that keep me alive and well.
The bullying got to me. I always felt like I was trying to justify myself and prove that I was actually sick. The irony is that I would give anything to be healthy. There were times I would neglect my health and not do my treatments. It was around this time that my dad passed away, leaving a hole in my heart that will always be there.
Recently, my health got so bad that I could hardly walk. I used a wheelchair. Speaking left me out of breath, and I lost 15 pounds in a single week. I would look at others who were simply walking and taking deep breaths and think, “they are so lucky.” It took sacrificing my health for me to understand that the disease will always be there, and those kids won’t be. The only person who suffers by resisting treatment is me. I now know better.
The experience of getting to this lowest point in my health has been motivating for me. It has matured me. I am determined to reclaim my health and to push aside the negative voices. I am prioritizing my treatments and exercises, and have learned so much about myself.
Cystic fibrosis has taught me who I am. I’m not happy to have CF, but I am happy and proud of who it has made me: a strong and resilient person. CF brings so much unseen pain and unanswered questions; but CF also brings lessons.
Despite all the low points, in the end there’s always a positive way to look at things. I look at life as a gift, and I am grateful for it every single day.
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