"My CF story is a strange one. I was diagnosed just after my 21st birthday. All babies are screened for it now at around 10 days old. I was a relatively healthy child who was on sports teams, but I sounded like a smoker even at the age of 10.
"I had a hacking cough and would always get infections. I was given an inhaler but that didn't do anything. I was given X-rays that didn't really show much either. When I was in uni I started having digestive issues and became quite poorly and ended up in hospital with pancreatitis.
"This is a very strange condition for a 20-year-old as it normally affects alcoholics, drug users, and the elderly (and people with CF, but doctors didn't know that was what I had at the time). Essentially my pancreas was attacking my liver and stomach – it was extremely painful. I had all sorts of tests, including nuclear testing on my gallbladder! They said the best thing to do would be to remove it.
"Immediately after the operation I was coughing more than I had in a long time and all the staff asked if I was a smoker. One nurse just happened to mention that my breathing tube had been covered in mucus when it was pulled out. I thought, That just cannot be right, so I went back to the GP. She said it didn't sound good either and referred me to a chest clinic.
"The doctor I saw thought it might be cystic fibrosis due to the pancreatic involvement and ordered a sweat test. People with CF lose more salt in their sweat. My salt levels were high enough for a diagnosis and then I had blood tests to confirm the two mutated genes that I carry. One is the common delta-F508 and another is a much rarer gene. We got Joe, my partner, tested shortly after to see if he was a carrier and unfortunately he was." – Martha Lane