Athlete Name: Megan Donnelly
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m the middle of five (all girls!) and grew up moving around with my Dad’s military career. My older sister also has CF and although our parents prioritized our health, they didn’t shelter or isolate us from the world. This instilled an “I can do it” attitude in all areas of life. I’ve been blessed with a great career, opportunities to travel the world, and ability to pursue my love for adventure and the outdoors. However, as I get older I realize the importance of maintaining a balance. It is not always easy to prioritize health (diet, sleep, exercise, treatments) but essential to thriving with CF.
“Knowing that CF does not define me. Embracing life beyond medical limitations and challenges."
Tell us what motivates you the most.
Knowing that CF does not define me. Embracing life beyond medical limitations and challenges that come with a chronic disease motivates me to do whatever it takes to maintain my lung functions. My faith in Jesus and His perfect plan for my life. My family and support system are a daily reminder of why I fight!
Why do you exercise?
Although I am extremely active, CF is still a chronic disease and requires discipline and a lot of responsibilities. I didn’t take my health seriously until my freshman year of High School when I had several set-backs forcing me to be homeschooled. My doctor gave me the “you can choose to fight or the disease will kill you” talk. That was the wakeup call I needed. So, I started running to improve my lung functions. First I made it to the end of the street and walked back but after a while I increased the distance and it became a personal challenge. I ended up running cross country and track in High School and College. I continued running and completed two marathons and over a dozen half marathons…and counting! Exercise is such a personal necessity to my physical and mental strength. I never want to take a breath for granted!
What are your goals for the future?
I love empowering people and serving those in need. I’m a product of individuals who believed in me and gave me opportunities beyond my ability (or so I thought) and I want to pay that forward.
Successful research and advanced treatments are adding tomorrow’s and giving CF’ers the opportunity to start careers and have families. This is exciting and what we are all striving to achieve, short of a cure! However, health insurance is essential and medical expenses become a huge burden, requiring a job and means to support. Jobs and families require energy and health…and so life becomes a paradox. It’s not a bad problem to have but I believe the CF community can do a lot more supporting and equipping CF adults. I want to encourage those who have ambitions and passions not to give up because of medical expenses or resource limitations. You are SO much more than being a CF’er. You can do it 🙂
Who is your role model?
My parents! As I get older I realize how much they sacrificed for me and my sister while also raising our three other siblings. They did whatever it took to get us the best care, they were persistent with our health, and encouraged us to go follow our passions even if it meant taking risk and traveling all over the world! I am where I am today because of their selfless dedication and constant support. Love you, Mom and Dad!
I also need to give a shoutout to my real ‘cyster,’ Claire! She submitted me for this amazing accomplishment and is a true CF hero. Growing up I wanted to be just like her and I’m still trying to keep up 🙂