From an early age, my parents taught me to be open about Cystic Fibrosis. Why? Cystic Fibrosis isn’t something to be ashamed about. It is a part of me. That doesn’t mean it defines me. Even by stating that, Cystic Fibrosis has not always been the easiest to live with, but I have learned to live with a positive perspective. I was born in Denver, Colorado and diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth. Colorado was the first state in the nation to include Cystic Fibrosis in a newborn screening. From a youthful age, Cystic Fibrosis affected my digestive system and my lungs. However, as I became older— CF began to affect me in other areas.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes. This was a shock for me at first because I never thought I would have to experience taking insulin. Over time, I began to get used to my new routine with taking insulin.
In 2015, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis Liver Disease. I never saw this coming. At this time of the year, I was the healthiest I had ever been. Before I knew it, I was being rushed to the hospital. They discovered I had CF Liver Disease because I was bleeding internally in my esophagus. The blood could not flow through my liver and backed up to my esophagus. They had to perform a TIPS Procedure, seal up the bleeding vessels, and put me on the liver transplant list. I was in the hospital for a month and had a long and slow recovery.
The recovery was not easy physically or mentally. The time spent in the hospital was emotionally draining. After being released, I experienced small doses of PTSD, anxiety, and a small episode of depression. This was a scary time for me. I had not experienced these emotional weights before. However, talking to my parents, having the support of my friends, and having faith in God, I was able to get through it. Slowly and over time—the fear and memories began to fade away.
From all that I have experienced, I turned what could be a negative situation into a positive one. I could be asking why this has happened to me, but instead, I ask, why not me? I am one example of many in the Cystic Fibrosis community. I have used the opportunities given to me to share my story and show that it is possible to live with a positive perspective. I created my YouTube channel, Ashley’s Roses, as a place for people to learn about CF, receive advice, and find a place to escape the harsh realities of CF.
From my experiences of living with Cystic Fibrosis, I have learned that the way to overcome hardships is to bloom in adversity. Each person with CF is a warrior and a beautiful rose. We start as buds as we begin the journey of Cystic Fibrosis. Overtime, there are trials we all have to face. Each time we face and conquer each trial, we bloom into a beautiful rose. Yes, Cystic Fibrosis is hard, but we have the choice of wilting and not wanting to continue to fight or continuing to fight and blooming into beautiful roses.