Having cystic fibrosis ‘is like living through Covid lockdowns’

A new campaign – CFTruths – includes slogans such as ‘We were coughing before it went viral’.

07 March 2022

A woman who says having cystic fibrosis is like living in a continuous lockdown has helped launch a new campaign to raise awareness.

Caitlin Rich, 25, from Hadfield in Derbyshire, is working with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust after noting that life in lockdown was very similar to the precautions she has to take in her everyday life.

She said: “The idea sparked from a conversation with my cystic fibrosis nurse who called me before a hospital visit to check that I didn’t have Covid-19.

“After the first question of ‘do you have a persistent cough?’ there was a pause.

“I’ve known this nurse for nearly a decade and have had a cough the whole time due to my cystic fibrosis.

“I said ‘of course! What do you think I’m coming in for?’

“We laughed it off, but unfortunately most people don’t find my cough as amusing.

“I quickly realised that we could draw on many more parallels between living in the pandemic and living with cystic fibrosis – social distancing from others with the condition, fear of catching a dangerous infection, restrictions on socialising and travelling.

“It has always been difficult to get people to understand what it is like to live with cystic fibrosis, but this campaign might help by relating it to our universal experience of the pandemic.”

CFTruths campaign
An image from the CFTruths campaign (The Cystic Fibrosis Trust/PA)

The new campaign – CFTruths – includes slogans such as “We were coughing before it went viral”.

An accompanying poll of more than 2,000 adults in the UK found 86% did not know that people with cystic fibrosis cannot meet in person in case they pass on deadly infections to each other.

While those with cystic fibrosis can be close to family and friends, they must stay away if somebody is ill.

Cystic fibrosis is an incurable and life-limiting genetic condition that affects almost 11,000 people in the UK.

People are born with the condition, which is usually diagnosed at birth, and people experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs

The typical age of death is just 36.

David Ramsden, chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “Today we’re launching our CFTruths campaign to give an insight into what it’s really like to live with a long-term, life-limiting condition.

“Covid has made the last two years a time of challenge and loss across the UK, and some of the changes we all had to make have given an insight into what parts of everyday life are often like for people with cystic fibrosis.

“These memories may fade as most of us begin to return to life as normal.

“We want to remind people that those with cystic fibrosis will still, every day, weigh up the risks of catching infections that could damage their lungs and lead to lengthy hospital stays.”

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