The Fighters Chronicles - Megan Barlow
My name is Megan (@the.salty.cf.artisan), and I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at 5 years old. Late, I know, for CF, but I hadn’t had many lung issues as a child. Shortly after, I was thrown into the thick of the CF regimen, started on enzymes, the vest, and on nebulizers. But what I also started on, was sports. Whether or not my parents knew the positive impact that would have on my health, I don’t know. But I became my CF doctor’s “star patient,” contributing my good health to how active I kept myself. I played softball, I played lacrosse, I ran track, I swam. You name it, I did it.
My good health and awesome sports regimen stayed true through high school, as I became more independent with my health and lifestyle choices. Playing varsity sports 6 days a week, 3 seasons a year kept me healthy and out of the hospital, and for that I am fortunate. Many people didn’t even know I had CF, or what was really involved in my day-to-day life to keep myself healthy unless they were close friends and I let them into that part of my life.
When I went away to college, that was the first time I found myself fully responsible for my health. I struggled, going up and down (for my standards), adding in new meds, but eventually finding my stride with ultimate frisbee and longer-distance runs.
But this past year, at 26 years old, I finally had to face the reality of the hospital, as I have now completed 2 sets of IVs since November, treating the MAC infection I’ve had in my lungs since early in college. As much as I try to control my own outcome, fighting hard with treatments and exercise, there are days I have to remind myself that I am not capable of controlling everything. I can continue to fight hard, and that’s what is in my control.
What I have also found to be under my control, is fundraising to find a cure. The saying "do good, feel good" really is true. About a year and a half ago, I started making bracelets for myself and my friends while I was on my vest. The time was otherwise wasted, so why not put it to good use? Since then, I have raised over $8,500 for CF research through selling my jewelry. It gave me a new outlook on treatment time, hours every day that can seriously be a bore, and it made me excited again. Since I graduated college, I really have tried to get more involved in fundraising for CF. I had watched my mom do it for so many years, but it finally hit me, why should I expect anyone else to put in the work towards this cause, if I'm not giving it all myself? I've become more involved in multiple CFF events and plan to see how far this jewelry-making endeavor can take me.
But, overall, I contribute my 26 years of good health to being diligent about my treatments and exercise routine. Find things that excite you for both! I urge everyone with CF to find their stride, stay active, and keep fighting. On the hard days, remember that as long as you keep fighting, there are ALWAYS brighter days ahead. Stay strong always, #saltysquad.