By Alexis Dills, Guest Columnist

 

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. The disease is genetic and progressive in nature, often resulting in severe complications of the respiratory and digestive systems leading to infection, inflammation and respiratory failure.

In the United States alone, more than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis and each year about 1,000 more people are diagnosed with this chronic condition. People living with this condition usually have an overabundance of mucus, persistent coughing, frequent lung infections and are extremely susceptible to all types of viruses and infections.

One minor virus or infection could have very serious consequences for a patient with cystic fibrosis. For this reason, those with cystic fibrosis must be under the watchful care of a health services team, have routine visits with physicians, be tested for medical needs, have nutritional consulting and most often digestive enzyme medication, all of which are extremely costly.

Cystic fibrosis, compared to many other diseases, is extremely underfunded. In 2018 the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation spent more than $11 million on research in the attempt to find a cure significantly lower than the funding of most other chronic diseases. For example, in 2017 the National Cancer Institute spent $5,363,000,000 on research to find a cure for cancer.

As we all have been touched by a friend or family member with cancer, this funding level is needed and necessary; however, in comparison to cystic fibrosis research funding, we absolutely need to find a way to increase the amount we spend on research and funding so that patients with cystic fibrosis can have access to high quality, innovative medical care focused on finding a cure for this disease.

I am conducting a fundraiser to take action to increase funding for cystic fibrosis in support of my cousin, Rory Dills. I am selling orange wristbands (picked out by Rory) for $3 each. If you would like to buy a wristband or make a donation to this cause, you can e-mail alexisd722@gmail.com, Facebook message me, or you can navigate to www.cff.org and donate directly under Rory’s Ramblers.

Alexis Dills chose cystic fibrosis as a social action project at Western Carolina University. She is a Smoky Mountain High School graduate.