109: Living Well with God and CF

109: Living Well with God and CF

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Living Well with God and CF

In time of sickness the soul collects itself anew.

~Latin Proverb

The doctors told my parents devastating news when I was born. My mom and dad learned that I had cystic fibrosis. The doctors said that I wouldn’t live past the age of thirteen. CF is an inherited lung disease. Having CF means that every day I have to do three to four hours of breathing treatments and take many medications. When I was twenty, I was diagnosed with CF-related diabetes, a common complication for adults with the disease. Having diabetes means I have to worry about insulin, exercising, and watching what I eat. If I don’t take care of myself, I will have to deal with serious consequences from both diseases.

Now I am thirty-one, which is eighteen years of living beyond the doctor’s expectations. At the age of twenty-three, I graduated from the University of North Texas. I am a preschool teacher of three-and four-year-old children. I love to exercise and live a very active life. I look healthy and strong. Beneath the surface, I am struggling with two diseases that can make my life very hard. I refuse to let my diseases interfere with my life.

CF sometimes is hard for me because I have coughing attacks that are unstoppable for a few minutes. Having these uncontrollable coughing fits tend to embarrass me in public because people think

I am sicker than I am and they think I have something contagious. Also, people stare at me until my coughing stops. I get frustrated when I have coughing attacks while I am talking or teaching because there is no way to stop them. I have to go to the hospital for a week at least once a year due to CF. I miss out on family birthdays, holidays, and work. Another frustration is that CF causes me to get sick and tire easily. If I stay up late one night or have a busy week, I need at least three days of going to bed early and rest on my days when I am off from teaching.

Having two diseases doesn’t discourage me, because I choose to have hope in God. I look for the good in everything. I choose to be around positive people. I try not to dwell on the negative aspects of my life, and I turn to God to help me have peace of mind. James 1:2-4 talks about having joy in trials because trials develop a mature and complete faith.

Whenever I get discouraged with the medical responsibilities of CF and diabetes, I look to God’s Word to give me hope. Besides having hope from God, I have received much encouragement and support from my family and friends. Having two diseases hasn’t stopped me from living a fulfilled and happy life. In high school, I was a cheerleader on an award-winning team. I even received a national award from Christian Cheerleaders of America. I gave my testimony and received a standing ovation from more than 450 cheerleaders when I shared how God has helped me through tough times while dealing with CF.

I lived alone in an apartment during my college years due to many advances in CF care. I never thought I would be able to live by myself or travel freely, but I have enjoyed the excitement of traveling to New York, Hollywood, Disney World, and the Mall of America. I look forward to what God has in store for my future.

~Rebekah Phillips

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