Some Heartland folks are getting ready to take steps to fight a disease that attacks nearly 30,000 children and adults in this country. Cystic Fibrosis hardens the lungs over time, eventually proving deadly. The average life expectancy for someone with CF is 32 years old. At 24 years old, Gail Wheeler is proof that a person with CF can live an active life, thanks to advances in medicine, but she's also hoping you help look for a cure.
It took ten years for doctors to diagnose Gail with Cystic Fibrosis. She was relieved to finally find out what was wrong, but at just ten years old, she already knew that it would eventually mean death. "For a ten year old to deal with a terminal illness it's interesting the thoughts you go through," Gail says. "Am I never going to have a future? Am I never going to grow up. It made me grow up fast."
Gail put her life in fast forward. She was married, and had her son, Russell, when she was 17. Russell's six now, and keeps his mom on the go. "I think that he is the thing that keeps me alive, he's very active," Gail says. "I don't have time to be sick. He changed my whole mentality. Most CF's have this mentality that this is my future, I'm going to die. With Russell, I don't have time to die." On her health, Gail says, "I have good days and bad days. More than anything with CF, when you get older you get arthritis and different things, so it's really a day to day thing, but today's a good day so that's good."
Gail knows there's no cure for Cystic Fibrosis, but like everyone who has the disease, she's confident one will be found soon. Right now, she's focused on keeping a positive attitude and being a good role model for her son.
"I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I look forward to raising him and enjoying him and he reminds me of life. He's so exciting, he brings life to me."
You have the chance to help people like Gail, Saturday, April 20th at the Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Walk. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Cape County Park North. All of the money raised will go toward research, so we can find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
Click here to find out more about Cystic Fibrosis.