June 11 2012

Joe Sleeper

“Breathe Easy”

I was tested for and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of five when my younger sister was diagnosed. In spite of my parents’ encouragement for both of us to stay active and compliant, my sister was always sicker than I was. When I was seventeen, my fourteen year old sister passed away from the disease that we shared. I became despondent and lost almost all of my hope. Watching my sister die from CF convinced me that I would eventually suffer the same fate; that treatments and compliancy were a just delaying the inevitable and forcing me to waste the time that I did have.

My bad habits caught up to me when I was 27 years old – MY PFTs were at 30 and I weighed around 115 pounds. I knew that if I did not change my attitude and my lifestyle that my life would actually be over, so I made changes. I began to see my treatments and exercise as an investment in my well-being, as tools to extend my life. Now, I exercise regularly with my soon-to-be wife, Jennifer, at our local fitness center where I swim, lift weights, and do cardio. I have found that exercise positively affects my health and is the perfect addition to my medications and treatments.

For so long I lived my life thinking that I would never see thirty – but now I am moving into my mid-30s, have a job I love, and am marrying a woman I don’t always think I deserve. I am so thankful for my life and for my time here with the people I love. I know that my sister is proud of the way I have turned my life around and I can honestly say that I am proud of myself and happy with where I am in life.

My hobbies… riding motorcycles, photography, tattoos, live music, being outdoors, cooking delicious meals with my lady.
Color: orange
Holiday: Memorial Day
Movie: Pulp Fiction
Musical Artist: The Meters
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would visit… the Mediterranean.
My friends and family would describe me as… geeky.

If I could give someone who was recently diagnosed any advice, it would be:
A CF diagnosis is not the end of the world – especially with all of the advances being made today. You will have to work harder than most people, but if you care for yourself, you can live a full, happy life.