Fight­ing to breathe

He­len O’Cal­laghan on a new cin­ema ad­vert about CF

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

A60-sec­ond film set to run in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide this month graph­i­cally il­lus­trates how life for peo­ple with cys­tic fi­bro­sis is a ‘fight to breathe’ — and in­vites au­di­ences to ex­pe­ri­ence that fight to breathe them­selves.

The ad­ver­tise­ment launched last month at the Ir­ish Film In­sti­tute, with CF Ire­land am­bas­sador and former Olympic box­ing gold medal­list Michael Car­ruth in at­ten­dance, as well as nine-yearold Maynooth boy Harry Cahill, who has the most se­vere type of CF.

Harry’s mum, Ruth, says her child was di­ag­nosed at six weeks. He has chronic si­nus is­sues and polyps in his nose that have re­quired surgery. Harry’s on daily pain re­lief for si­nus pain, has joint pain, and needs to take medicine be­fore eat­ing to help him di­gest food. He doesn’t have asthma-type symp­toms.

“His lungs are in very good con­di­tion. Since he was a new­born, he has par­tic­i­pated in tri­als, such as the CF Shield Study, which looked at lung dam­age in very young chil­dren. As a re­sult, he has had an an­nual bron­choscopy — they as­sess the lungs, take sam­ples, and clean out the lungs,” says Ruth.

The yearly pro­ce­dure means doc­tors can pin­point which an­tibi­otics and neb­u­liser are right for Harry’s con­di­tion. Phys­io­ther­apy, breath­ing ex­er­cises, and reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ex­er­cise help as well, and Harry does five sports: Taek­wondo, golf, swim­ming, GAA, and skate­board­ing.

Ruth and hus­band Henry are sporty and ac­tive. They’ve worked since their son’s di­ag­no­sis to en­sure his qual­ity of life. “We re­alised how vi­tal it was to make ex­er­cise a nor­mal, rou­tine part of ev­ery­day life. The sports we’ve cho­sen for Harry are ones he loves — they also help him from the CF per­spec­tive. Taek­wondo is all about pos­ture and stand­ing straight — the ef­fect is to in­crease ca­pac­ity within the lungs. At swim­ming, he learns un­der­wa­ter breath­ing tech­niques.”

With Harry do­ing some sport every day, Ruth says the fam­ily’s very proud that he achieves the high­est score in an­nual fit­ness tests in his age cat­e­gory.

This week, Ruth joined Henry for the first time to run the Dublin City Marathon. “We want to show Harry a never-give-up at­ti­tude — that if we work hard at our fit­ness, we can achieve any­thing.”

The ‘Fight to Breathe’ cin­ema ad­ver­tise­ment fea­tures Edelle Collins from Castle­knock, who has CF. The aware­ness film runs free of charge in cin­e­mas thanks to the gen­eros­ity of Wide Eye Me­dia.

BOXED IN: Harry Cahill, from Kil­dare, who has cys­tic fi­bro­sis, at the launch of ‘Fight to Breathe’, in cin­e­mas this month.

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