Christina Davidson had kept her incurable disease a secret from all but a few close friends.
But last month, after reading the desperate Facebook plea of another person suffering from cystic fibrosis, she decided to share her story in a simple, heartfelt 3 1/2-minute video that has been seen more than 11.5 million times.
The 23-year-old Nashville resident doesn’t speak a single word in the video, in which she sits in front of a Christmas tree with music playing quietly in the background. Instead, one by one, she holds up a series of handwritten cards explaining her life with cystic fibrosis, which has sent her to the hospital more times than she can remember.
“My parents and I kept it a secret most of my life,” says one card.
“I wanted to feel ‘normal,’” explains the next.
"Most people look at me and think I'm normal. I would give anything to know what normal feels like."
Davidson is one of about 30,000 people in the United States with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a thick mucus buildup in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. About 70,000 people world wide have the disease, which does not have a cure.
Davidson says she lost a cousin and two close friends to cystic fibrosis, which does not get any research funding from the federal government. She posted the video on Facebook, explaining that she wanted to let everybody know about a friend of hers who was losing “the good battle” with the disease.
“I'm trying to raise awareness because one day Facebook friends it's going to come down to you saving my life," she wrote in the caption.
In the 1950s, children with cystic fibrosis were not expected to live long enough to attend elementary school, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Today, about half of all people with the condition are 18 years or older. Although it’s possible for people with cystic fibrosis to now live into their early 40s, it all depends on the severity of their symptoms as well as other factors.
Many people with the disease seek lung transplants toward the end of their lives, but such a procedure does not provide a permanent solution.
“C.F. is destroying my lungs and my body,” Davidson says in one of her video cards. “One day I’ll rely on you guys to save my life and help me get new lungs.”
Davidson also takes a moment in the video to describe the disease as a “curse of a blessing."
"A curse because it’s destroying my body and killed my lungs. A blessing b/c I know how to live everyday like it’s my last," she says.
Since posting her story on Dec. 19, Davidson's video has received more than 11.5 million views and 241,000 shares. She also had to create a second Facebook page to accommodate her "friends" on the platform.
Davidson said she wants to educate people about her disease and hopes increased awareness will encourage donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
"Because one day my dream is to breathe easy just like the rest of you."
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