Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fighting Cystic Fibrosis...Again.

If you have been around in this world for very long tragedy has intersected your path. It may be a horrible injury that forever alters your life, some form of abuse or the death of someone close to you.

Tragedy intersected my world on June 29, 1998 when my big brother died. His name was Andy and he was less than 4 months away from his 30th birthday when complications of cystic fibrosis took his life. If you aren't familiar with cystic fibrosis you can read more about it here. CF has killed multiple members of my family but admittedly, losing a cousin doesn't effect you like losing a brother. In so many ways my world was forever altered when Andy died.. Andy was 7 years older than me and I looked up to him in almost every way imaginable. Through my whole life we always did everything together. From fight, play sports, stand up for each other and make one another better...with me always receiving more than I gave...he was always there. So many lessons in life I still follow came from him. I could go on and on, but all of it is to say that he was incredibly special to me and life hasn't been the same without him here.

Certain events in life have been bitter sweet without Andy being present to offer his wisdom, love and wit. Brook never got to meet Andy. I know he would love her and they would probably leave me with the boys all the time as they rode horses. Andy wasn't present for the birth of the boys. I know the boys would be with Andy constantly if they could. Kids always loved Andy and my boys would be no different. They would love their Uncle Andy and would likely be so spoiled by him.

Cystic Fibrosis is such an awful disease. The death one typically suffers is the person and their family. Once you go through such an event I don't think you can ever hear of someone having CF without knowing how your path has been effected and feeling a special sympathy for the person. I have said that I would do anything to keep someone from experiencing such a disease and ultimately such a death. The truth however is that next week will be the 13th anniversary of Andy's death and only once have I been able to actively approach people and/or families dealing with CF.

Prior to our kids being born, Brook and I went to Children's Hospital and took orders from the CF kids and their families. We simply asked what would make their time in the hospital better, easier or brighter. We took the list and went to several stores like we were Santa. I purposely couldn't tell any of the families why we were doing what we were and how my life had been effected by CF. I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain my composure long enough to tell them. I think the parents somehow knew...and the kids didn't need to know. That night brought a lot of joy to the families and to us, but it was so incredibly hard to re-enter that situation. That was the first and last time we did anything like that.

Yesterday I was looking online to see what progress may have been made toward treatments or possible cures and ran across a relatively new marathon and half marathon in Atlanta, GA and another in Miami, FL that benefits the CF Foundation. I decided that it was time to get back in the ring and fight cystic fibrosis so I decided to run in the race next year and raise money for the CF Foundation.
Everyone in my family that was born with CF has died from the disease so I don't know anyone directly that will be blessed by a cure or a new treatment. To me though running the race is about fighting for those who need help and running for people that can't run a marathon to save their life, maybe enough other people can run to save lives. That will be my prayer and my goal.

There will be more information to come...