Michaela with an Oxygen Mask to Treat Her Cystic Fibrosis

Image source: Kincanada.ca

If I’ve learned one thing over the past few months it’s that volunteering takes many forms. I’ve written about volunteering in Africa with orphans, in India with refugees, in Central America with environmentalists, and in Florida with coral reefs. I realize now that there are opportunities everywhere, with people, with wildlife, and with organizations behind the scenes. One type of volunteering I haven’t written much about, however, is with organizations closer to home that address a specific medical malady. Cystic Fibrosis Canada does just that.

Cystic fibrosis is a fatal genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. There is no cure. Because the disease results in a build up of protein and mucus in the digestive tract, absorbing nutrients from food is difficult and many patients have died from malnutrition. Today, patients are given large amounts of digestive enzymes to help their systems process food. Patients are living longer, healthier lives, though they are still cut cruelly short. Lung disease is the cause of most cystic fibrosis deaths today.

Illustration of the Effects of Cystic Fibrosis

Image source: Allamericanpatriots.com

Babies born with cystic fibrosis can still live fulfilling lives with the appropriate care and support. That’s where the volunteers come in. There are hundreds of people in Canada volunteering their time to help ease the suffering of people with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Canada has multiple chapters and at each location volunteers of any age with any amount of experience are welcome. The work volunteers do depends entirely on their interest and experience. Some are teachers or care providers while others serve on boards, raise money, or advocate for the patients. Some volunteers simply hang out, taking patients on day trips or playing games with them at home.

Promotional Image for the Organization Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Image source: Ccnbikes.com

Cystic fibrosis makes exposure to illness very dangerous. A cold or flu that a healthy person could fight off can have a devastating effect on someone with compromised lung function and immunity. Many volunteers worry that they will be exposing patients to illness. To get these volunteers active, Cystic Fibrosis Canada encourages them to connect with patients virtually. They also provide a comprehensive resource of links to information and they have a series of free web casts for volunteers or community members to learn more about the disease. Every year the Cystic Fibrosis Canada affiliated Adult Cystic Fibrosis Committee, a group of adults living with the disease, hold an education day to raise awareness in the community.

There are so many ways to get involved in the fight against cystic fibrosis. If you are interested in helping sick people lead more interesting and fulfilled lives, this is the perfect opportunity.

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