My name is Hannah Buck, I'm 22, and I have cystic fibrosis (CF). Over the past year, I have experienced more difficulties with my health than ever before. As CF is a progressive disease, it only gets worse as one gets older. This progression has certainly been evident in my life, through my ever-increasing joint and muscle pain, rapidly declining lung function, unintentional loss of over thirty pounds, and more. Whereas when I was younger I would be hospitalized only twice a year (every six months or so), I am now hospitalized six or more times a year (every one or two months). As I inch through life, as I inch towards true adulthood, CF is sprinting to catch up with me, threatening to steal away everything I have and have worked for.
I often lie in bed, struggling to breathe, wondering why I'm even still pursuing a college degree that I may not live long enough to use - or even receive.
With so much remaining out of my control, I've found that it is necessary to focus my energy on what I can control. And while this does relate to things like medical compliance - i.e. if I want to feel better, I must work hard to take all of my pills and do all of my breathing treatments - it also relates to happiness. The likelihood of me running a marathon in the next month is slim, to say the least, but the likelihood of me laughing in the next ten minutes is high! Even when I can't be healthy, I can be happy.
By surrounding myself with the environments, activities, and people that consistently lift me up, I am able to genuinely enjoy my life, even while feeling ill. Though I cannot always run, I can walk, and I can choose to walk through a garden with my puppy dog. CF is not a lifelong misery sentence.
But yes, there are times when even happiness itself feels out of reach. Depression, anxiety, and I have a long, twisted relationship; sometimes, they temporarily win. In those times, however, I try to remember to do as my best friend, Amber, tells me: I try to look up. I try to see, really see, the sunset. The moon. The glorious opportunity I have during my time here on earth. I'm alive. Even when I can't be happy, I can be here.
I am here, and so are you.
Thus is the story of this year's A Healthy Fam team shirt design. I hope that every time you slip it over your head, you rememeber that at the end of the day, you're still here. And I hope that in addition to being here, you are happy...and maybe even healthy.