Makayla Smith is a warrior whose battles are fought on the field of life against cystic fibrosis, a life threatening genetic disease that can wreak havoc on the lungs and digestive organs. Just following her senior homecoming and 18th birthday, while most students would be celebrating, Makayla was faced with the most difficult circumstances she’s ever had.
Due to a severe lung infection, she spent over a month in the hospital during the holidays, overcoming a collapsed lung, excruciating pleuritic chest pain, a chest tube, multiple IV’s, and chronic back pain from the early onset of osteopenia.
As so often with CF patients, one minute they are doing great and the next they are fighting to breathe. This drastic change is due to the fact that many CF patients have compromised immune systems from the years of antibiotics and steroids used to fight back the lung infections that are so frequent with the disease; so when a ‘bad bug’ hits them, it hits hard!
During this challenging time, Makayla and her family realized that she could breathe easier and avoid some of the extreme pain when resting and sleeping in an upright position, which helps alleviate some of the pressure off of the chest cavity, and provides a more comfortable position for her weakened back bones. At the request of a solution to find her an adjustable bed, Lori Griffith from the Chasin A Dream Foundation volunteered immediately to help provide a portion of the funding to purchase a new bed. Together, Chasin A Dream Foundation and Pipers Angels Foundation provided Makayla with a new adjustable bed and a complete bedding ensemble.
Makayla is now in recovery and doing much better, but her fight continues. Research for new drug therapies are great for extending life; but when life is extended, so are the physical, psychological, and financial burdens. Finding ways to improve daily care and quality of life is paramount to someone who is diagnosed with a limited lifespan. Time is relative and how we spend our precious time is incredibly important. We must cherish the good days! Makayla is a true CF warrior and inspiration. She should have every opportunity to live her dreams, find happiness on her path, and not worry about being supported through the suffering along the way.
Throughout this all, Makayla keeps a positive attitude and recalls recently meeting a gentleman at a Cystic Fibrosis event who’s grandson has CF. He asked her to give some advice that he could pass along to his grandson and she said “Don’t let it get to you. Stay positive. Keep up with treatments even if it is a pain in the morning while you’re trying to get ready for school. Let your friends see what you are doing so they can relate to you and understand just what having Cystic Fibrosis means. It’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is you wouldn’t know I had anything if I didn’t tell you. In Gods will that is appreciated, but there is a curse that there is so much going on inside of you that others don’t see. Sometimes I wish I could share this with people. I may look fine but inside there is so much going on. It is what it is and I just stay positive.”