Hang­ing on to health

Christchurch Mail - - FRONT PAGE -

gets into the swing of deal­ing with cys­tic fi­bro­sis with Juliet Hub­bard.

Juliet Hub­bard dis­cov­ered an un­ex­pected ex­er­cise she be­lieved im­proved her lung func­tion, which was com­pro­mised by se­vere cys­tic fi­bro­sis: pole danc­ing.

Hub­bard, 32, the ‘‘poster girl’’ for the life-threat­en­ing dis­or­der which dam­ages the lungs and di­ges­tive sys­tem, in­spired the fourth an­nual Pole-to­ber-fest fundraiser event held in Christchurch on Satur­day, which raised nearly $4500 for Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis Can­ter­bury.

Four years ago the for­mer Christchurch woman took her first pole danc­ing fit­ness class at the Lib­er­ate Pole Dance and Ex­er­cise club after read­ing an ar­ti­cle about the fit­ness ac­tiv­ity’s abil­ity to im­prove lung func­tion.

‘‘Ex­er­cise is quite good for strength­en­ing lungs, even though you don’t feel like it at the time.

‘‘I felt like an id­iot telling [my hus­band] Kris’ par­ents, ’Just been at my pole class’, but they all know it’s for ex­er­cise,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s ac­tu­ally real tal­ent - who can hang up­side down on a pole without train­ing for a year at least?’’

Hub­bard’s health de­te­ri­o­rated over the past year, with her lung func­tion drop­ping to 27 per cent, re­sult­ing in hav­ing to stop her pole fit­ness and move north to Marl­bor­ough with her hus­band where the air was lighter and the win­ters more mild.

‘‘A good day for me is get­ting out of bed, hav­ing a shower, cook­ing the meals and get­ting out for a walk. A bad day is stay­ing in my PJs all day,’’ she said.

She is cur­rently be­ing as­sessed to see if she could be a can­di­date for a lung transplant, the only way to cure end stage cys­tic fi­bro­sis (CF).

The most com­mon ge­netic con­di­tion in New Zealand, 500 Ki­wis are liv­ing with CF, ac­cord­ing to Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis New Zealand. The av­er­age life span was 37 years, with half dy­ing by the age of 34.

Christchurch Hos­pi­tal res­pi­ra­tory ser­vices clinical di­rec­tor Dr Greg Frazer said an ac­tive life­style was very im­por­tant for CF pa­tients.

‘‘Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise can help peo­ple with CF to clear the thick sticky mu­cus from their lungs and im­prove their daily func­tion­ing.’’

He said ac­tiv­i­ties which in­creased mus­cle strength and func­tion and im­proved over­all ex­er­cise ca­pac­ity such as pole fit­ness were rec­om­mended to CF pa­tients.

‘‘She works twice as hard to build mus­cle strength be­cause her body is ab­so­lutely fight­ing so many things,’’ said Lib­er­ate Pole Dance and Ex­er­cise club owner Liv Allchurch.

‘‘And her at­ti­tude... it’s 10 times bet­ter than any per­son who’s been gifted nor­mal lungs.’’

Hub­bard said the Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis New Zealand Can­ter­bury branch had helped her enor­mously over the years, pro­vid­ing por­ta­ble oxy­gen con­cen­tra­tors, neb­u­lis­ers and hard­ship sup­port.

The event, which raised $3000 last year, has gone ‘‘from strength to strength’’, said Cys­tic Fi­bro­sis New Zealand’s Can­ter­bury branch chair Melissa Ske­ne­said.

‘‘It has al­lowed us to reach a com­pletely dif­fer­ent group of peo­ple who are all keen to help peo­ple with CF.’’

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