Fighting to breathe
Helen O’Callaghan on a new cinema advert about CF
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.