Patient with cystic fibrosis shares how COVID-19 precautions already mirror her daily routines

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They can teach us a thing or two about what it’s like to live with a constant threat to our wellbeing. For cystic fibrosis patients, masks and social isolation are a way of life, not a temporary mandate.

Back in February, Sierra May was part of a new drug trial at Northwestern Medicine for patients with cystic fibrosis.

Patients suffer with chronic lung infections due to mucus build up in their airways — many struggle to breathe and are tethered to an oxygen tank. To protect themselves, a mask is standard issue, not a new accessory.

“Daily routine literally I carry my mask around with me everywhere,” May said. “It has the two filters for breathing it also has a filter on the inside so it’s easier to breathe and it protects me from dust pollen, other people’s germs.”

 And now we’re all learning a bit about May’s reality — constantly protecting herself from the elements and others, even when it comes to family.

“We’re already social isolated they know if they are running fever if they are coughing even the slightest little sniffle they know, ‘Hey I gotta stay home. I have to protect her.’ So this is nothing new for me. Quite frankly, nothing new to a lot of CF patients,” May said.

 May said people may not like the social distancing orders, but she says it’s whats going to keep people healthy. 

May and many patients like her can’t meet in person due to their shared health risks, so they’re already regulars on Facebook and Skype. But right now they’re focusing on reaching out beyond the CF community.


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