Five babies are born with cystic fibrosis every week in the UK.
Helen Banks was diagnosed at the age of six months and every day since has been on numerous different medications, including inhalers and insulin for CF-related diabetes. She also had constant rounds of physiotherapy, which consisted of pummelling her chest area to loosen the mucus on her lungs.
“I had to get up, have a nebuliser, wait 20 minutes for it to work, have my physio for half-an-hour, which was five or 10 minutes on each side, front, back and both sides, then have my tablets, get dressed and get sorted to go to school. The whole process would take more than an hour before I could get out the door,” said Helen.
Then it would be repeated at night before she went to bed and often, particularly if she was ill, she would have to endure three sessions a day.
“It was just a way of life, though. I didn’t know any different,” she said.
Having spent a great deal of her life in hospital, at the age of 16, Helen’s condition had deteriorated so much that she was placed on a lung transplant list.
She was lucky enough to get a transplant but just two years later her body rejected the lungs, triggered by an appendix operation, and now she only has a 22% lung function.
Helen married in 2011 and works as an admin secretary for Azure Charitable Enterprises in Cramlington.
She said: “A transplant is a wonderful thing. I’m still grateful every day for the amazing gift that family gave me. I most certainly wouldn’t still be here today if it wasn’t for them. A transplant though is not the cure. The only way to find a cure is through research and research needs money. This is why I’ve decided to do my bit and raise much-needed funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.”