After several years of anxious uncertainty and relentless coughing fits , at age 5, Aaron’s family was given the news that he was the unlucky one out of 3,600 Canadian children born with cystic fibrosis. Countless hours were spent driving back and forth between hospitals for ceaseless tests and speculations of what could be causing him with so much discomfort. He would soon become a member of an under-recognized community, but more importantly, he became an altruistic advocate, fascinated observer, and intelligent contributor to the health care system.
Throughout his childhood and into adulthood, Aaron frequented the hospital for routine tests and check-ups, and completed daily physical therapy, sometimes for hours at a time. At age 15, he had a tube inserted in his stomach for nightly supplementary calorie intake. Further complicating Aaron's respiratory difficulties are recurrent nasal polyps which lead to chronic sinus infections and an inability to breathe through the nose. Aaron has had these polyps surgically removed 5 different times in a procedure that is becoming increasingly more risky as his lung function continues to deteriorate as a result of CF. As is the case with most cystic fibrosis patients, Aarons perpetual lung infections occasionally become too difficult to self-manage and fail to respond to conservative treatment. As a result, once or twice per year, Aaron is admitted to hospital for weeks at a time to undergo more intensive antibiotic and physical therapy.
Hospital visits are usually preceded by weeks of severe discomfort and sickness that evidently have a critical impact on his school, professional, and social lives. Absences from both his job and school have significant consequences on professional success, something that Aaron values greatly. Cystic fibrosis can often times render ordinary activities difficult, like walking to university classes, due to periods of debilitating shortness of breath. Socializing can moreover be challenging due to persistent coughing and constant lack of energy, something for which his friends and family are incredibly patient. Because of cystic fibrosis, Aaron has missed some significant moments in his life such as sporting events, anniversaries, birthdays and holidays, as well as his undergraduate graduation which was celebrated remotely by his family at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
If constant battles with insurance companies and the government for access to essential medication were not enough, chronic lung infections and serious cystic fibrosis-related complications such as liver disease and diabetes should’ve discouraged Aaron from being the positive and kind-hearted person that he is. Aaron has never let his illness impact the way he treats others and always listens to the needs of everyone around him before tackling his own. A selfless and thoughtful individual, Aaron is recognized by his peers for his generous attitude and attentiveness to his surroundings.
While there are no days off from cystic fibrosis, Aaron, and cystic fibrosis patients alike, work hard to live a normal life in spite of the challenges they face.
Aaron completed an Honours Bachelor degree in Biomedical Sciences from Laurentian University with honours recognition for his academic merit. At present, he is studying at Queen’s University in a Master’s of Physical Therapy program and is working to become a physiotherapist by the fall of 2021. Cystic fibrosis has had a significant influence towards his interest in pursuing a career in health care, built from a desire to help other people just as he has been helped himself.
Outside of school, Aaron spends most of his summers surrounded by friends on Georgian Bay. He has been regarded fondly by his co-workers for his dedication to his job and patience in stressful situations.
Aaron is presently working hard completing hospital placements, assignments, and exams towards his degree in physiotherapy. He is looking forward to diving into work as a physiotherapist to help others in return to those who have helped him.
Enhanced therapies and innovative technologies will be a huge factor in determining Aarons success and longevity in his career. Access to medication is imperative for his survival and well being, and accordingly, gaining access will be determined by the assistance and support he receives.