When I was 18 months old I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disorder that curently affects 10,000 people in the UK. For my parents to find out I had a condition that limited my lifespan to 25 years was devastating. Thanks to medical advances, to which my chosen charity has contributed funding, the current life expectancy is in the late 30s.
Cystic fibrosis causes persistent lung infections and limits breathing ability over time. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. As a male with CF it also affects my fertility. CF has led me to have a weakened immune system; a common cold can hospitalize me for weeks if not longer.
Living with CF each day is a challenge physically and mentally. For me each day begins with an hour and a half round of inhaled medication alongside physiotherapy. I will take a minimum of 80 tablets throughout the day, so I am able to digest food and get the vitamins and minerals that my body cannot otherwise absorb. I will end my day with another round of inhaled medication, which again takes an hour and a half, alongside more physiotherapy. This is a daily routine to prevent further lung damage and hopefully increase my life expectancy.
Despite the challenges that come with having CF, I do not want this to stop me living my life to the fullest. If anything, my CF has motivated me even more to stay as fit and healthy as I possibly can. For the last ten years, I trained everyday as a swimmer and ended up competing at British nationals. I have never wanted CF to dictate my life, and this summer I am going to be taking on an enormous challenge called 'Crossing For A Cure'.
The Crossing For A Cure is a long-distance endurance paddle challenge and international championship; participants paddle 80 miles across the Gulf Stream from Bimini in the Bahamas back to the Florida mainland in Lake Worth. The event was inspired by the incredible health benefits of the Ocean for those living with cystic fibrosis.
On June the 9th I shall be flying, self funded, from London to Florida to paddle board the whole 80 miles from the Bahamas to Florida; in one day! I feel so lucky to be well enough to take on this challenge, something that I never thought would be possible with CF. I hope by doing this challenge I can inspire others with cystic fibrosis to also do something they never thought was possible.
Over the next few months, I will be updating everyone on my training and preparation on my instagram jack_cox99. If you would like to see how I get on with this challenge follow my page for regular updates.
All donations shall go towards an amazing charity, Piper's Angels; they make a real difference to people living with cystic fibrosis. Paying for peoples prescriptions, providing access to the best care and even funding holidays for financially challenged CF patients are just some of the ways Piper's Angels changes lives. This is an american charity however all the money i rase will go towards people with CF in the uk. I am doing this in the spirit of Piper's Angels mission to "#Inspire Every Breath"
I would really appreciate it if you could all donate what you can to this wonderful charity, and share this page with as many people as possible. All donations from the UK will be converted from dollars to pounds by your bank.