All about Cystic Fibrosis

Shoot for the Stars

From SVB 2007
Testimonial by Mary-Pier Gaudet

My happy childhood began on December 15, 1983, in Ville Marie, in the lovely Témiscamingue region. When I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 18 months, however, my life took a different turn. Yet my unflagging good spirits helped me navigate through life’s obstacles. Between homework, friends, the hospital, figure-skating and dance lessons, coping with my parents’ divorce and quarrelling with my little brother, no one could have sensed my deep discontent. Torn by an inner drive and a desire for self-fulfillment, I knew I didn’t belong in that quiet corner of the world. My growing conviction that I could accomplish something special finally convinced me to take a chance, somewhere, elsewhere.

It was only after my first heartbreak that I mustered the courage to leave Témiscamingue and try my luck in the city. My dream at the time was to become a professional dancer. I used to quietly envy the beautiful dancing girls on television, moving to the exciting rhythms of pop music. I wanted to be one of them with all my heart.

As a newcomer to the big city, I was as curious and naïve as a child. I wanted to explore it all and try everything: going out at night under the bright city lights and partying until dawn. However, what I thought was the good life only seemed so on the surface. I had always been a little reluctant to accept my disease, so it didn’t matter to me that I was overdoing things. And the situation got worse, I think, when I found out that I had diabetes. Alone in that egotistical metropolis, wounded by all the doors that were closing before me, I saw all my hopes crumbling. During those sad years, I could have filled the oceans with tears. I had no love, no job and no friends, and my health was poor. And to top it off, my good spirits had abandoned me, taking with them all my dreams.

The summer of 2005 was a turning point in my life. Weakened by my negligent behaviour, I had to put my life on hold, once again, behind hospital walls, hanging on to my IV pole for dear life. I was confronted with the cold, hard truth for the nth time, and my morale was crushed. My insulin levels had become catastrophically dangerous and my lung capacity, considerably reduced: my entire system was sort of like a time bomb, which didn’t help my frame of mind.

During this tempestuous time, I was fortunate to meet a ray of sunshine: a source of light by the name of Alexandre, who made me realize for the first time that I was the captain of my own ship. I saw that my life was going nowhere and that, despite all my intentions, I hadn’t yet accomplished anything. The example he set revived in me the impetus that had thrust me out of the shadows in the first place. An unknown force welled up inside me, making me want to prove, both to him and to myself, that I could succeed. That is how I came to fight my first battle.

Filled with anger at myself and the medical professional who recommended that I slow down, I vowed to start training seriously. I wanted to take control and change the course of my life. Staying motivated was a new challenge. Having never been very disciplined, especially because of the empathy my friends felt toward me because of my health, I had to swallow my pride and persevere every day. However, my new lifestyle brought about positive changes in all aspects of my life. Enthusiastic about this second life that I had been given through my own efforts, and spurred on by the results, I hired a trainer and set my first real objective: to enter a fitness competition. I was fascinated by all the work this required and completely taken with the idea of combining gymnastics, dance and flexibility. This time, I would achieve my dream, and no one was going to stop me!

As a result, my condition gradually began to improve. The training increased my lung capacity to a higher level than I had ever achieved in previous tests. In addition, my new diet helped me to understand my diabetes and how food affects my body.

The following changes occurred:

  • I went from 6 capsules of Cotazym [ECS 20] to 0-1 capsule of Cotazym [ECS 8] per meal.

2)  I was able to considerably reduce the number and dosage of my daily insulin injections.

3)  I improved my capacity for work-outs and my endurance.

4)  My sleep became more restorative, so I could spend more time on my training.

5) I developed a sense of pride, which improved my morale.

My enhanced quality of life is a wonderful thing, naturally, but meeting my objective after putting so much effort into it was the greatest accomplishment in my life. Having known the joy of success makes me want to do even better. I now know that nothing is impossible, but that we sometimes have to exert a great deal of effort; if everything were always easy, everyone would be doing it! As for me, I want to be among those who try and who succeed. Since I am lucky enough to have that strength of character, the courage of a lion and an iron will, I might as well use it to make my life a series of victories.

In closing, I would like to give the following advice: It’s important to believe in your dreams, no matter what they are, even if other people don’t see eye to eye with you in that regard. The more effort you put into the endeavour, the more the dream becomes credible and important. Remember that the more time and energy you spend on your dreams, the less time there is to be sick! Shoot for the stars and look at the big picture, because the sky’s the limit. The proof of this is that I took part in the championships in Miami in early November to defend my new title as Second World Champion in Fitness and Figure. Who would have thought!

Now it’s your turn. Go for it!

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