Truly living with Cystic Fibrosis - - Jackson, MS

Truly living with Cystic Fibrosis

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Dena Walker is no stranger to doctors' offices.

"During childhood I was pretty sick," Walker said. "I stayed in the hospital a lot. I was in for two weeks at a time until I reached junior high, then I started doing a lot better."

Dr. Nauman Chaudary is the director of the Cystic Fibrosis program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

He says managing C-F requires self discipline. 

"They are supposed to see us four times a year and have cultures drawn," Dr. Chaudary said. "And that's one thing I request of my patients to come here more often. What we see here is lacking at times. The patient doesn't want to come here until they get sick and some of them are in the healthier stage. We don't want them to get to that stage that they are that sick and they really need to see me." 

Dena gives her parents a lot of credit. 

"My mom and dad made sure I got my breathing treatments and stayed away from other sick children," Walker said. 

The reason Dena spent so much time in the hospital as a youngster is because people with C-F are at greater risk for certain infections, in Dena's case, lung infection.

"I don't see a lot of healthy C-F patients so I feel like I'm really lucky to be able to get up and go to work every day and just live a normal life," Walker said. "I don't really let it slow me down."

Dr. Chaudary says that kind of care goes a long way for patients like Dena.

People with C-F generally have a life expectancy of around 35, but that's baggage Dena chooses not to carry.

"I'm not really a worrier," Walker said. "It's not something you can think about and let it hold you back. If I were to live like that, I couldn't live my life the way I wanted to."

Cystic Fibrosis can also be diagnosed in adults.

More in depth information from the National Institutes of Health. 

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