At just two months old, I was diagnosed with the genetic lung disease Cystic Fibrosis or CF for short. Cystic Fibrosis may be characterized as a lung disease, but it actually also affects the digestive system, reproductive system, eyesight, bones, immune system, and it can also cause arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. In the 1900s the survival rate for CF patients was incredibly low, most children only living to the age of seven. Today, most people with CF can look to living until their early 40s, if their health has been managed correctly. When I was diagnosed, my doctors told my mother that she shouldn’t expect me to live past ten years old. Although my mother wasn’t a Christian yet, she still believed that there had to be more to my life than dying at a young age. By God’s blessing and mercy, I will be turning 22 years old this year, defeating all odds set by my doctors.
Growing up, I knew I was extremely different from my peers. I couldn’t play like all the other kids, or go out with friends as much as I would have liked to, or even go to school on a daily basis. By age 20, I have had over 30 surgeries, three feeding tubes, and over 15 catheters placed in my arms. I can’t even count how many times I have been in the hospital for extended care. I have never weighed more than 100 pounds due to my body being unable to digest food properly. As I get older, my body continues to shut down. There is no cure, no miracle surgery or pill, and there is no government funding for research.
I say all that to say this, God has been good. Up until I left for college, I hated my disease. I was bitter towards God for allowing me to be born sick. However, under the care and love of Pensacola Christian College and my closest friends, I have learned that God gives the difficult battles to His strongest warriors. By His mercy, I have defeated so many odds and trials that have come my way. Each day He gives my broken lungs air, my paralyzed stomach the miraculous ability to puzzle doctors by halfway digesting food, and my bones to continue supporting my body despite the osteoporosis. He has given me the opportunity to witness to doctors, nurses, janitors, and even other patients. My CF specialist calls me his “Miracle Case”, because I should not have lasted this long. Oh, but God is good.
I have had nights where I was terrified of what my life will hold, but thank goodness the One who holds my life has a perfect plan. In the nights and days that I have been afraid or weak, thinking that my disease is just too strong, I think of this verse:
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
My God is good. I could have never made it this far without His strength. He is my God, my rock, my shield, my never-ending hope.
I may have Cystic Fibrosis, but Cystic Fibrosis does NOT have me. My disease may be strong, but my God is STRONGER. I have no fear, I have God.