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Smoking: the potential risks for people with cystic fibrosis

by Olga G.

Patient testimonials represent individual experiences and opinions of the individual patient. Experiences may vary.

When I found out that I was expecting my first baby, I took great care to follow the doctor’s advice and recommendations by taking vitamins to strengthen the baby’s development, eating a balanced diet, avoiding junk food, and much to my dismay, refrain from drinking coffee in the mornings.

During my pregnancy, I remember making plans to meet up with a friend and catch up. At one point in the conversation, she, who is a smoker, pulled out a box of cigarettes and a lighter from her purse. I quickly reacted and asked her to please not smoke around me, to which she only replied, “It’s okay… I’m going to look away from you when I exhale the smoke.” Then she lit the cigarette and smoked…

Surprised, and honestly upset at her response, I still regret not having insisted that she didn’t smoke around me or even better, getting up and leaving. It’s very important to put yourself in the “shoes” of others and not to ignore the harmfulness of smoking, harming yourself and incidentally others with second-hand smoke.

Otherwise, any future mother’s efforts in her pregnancy health could go to waste. Fortunately, all went well, and I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

An unexpected diagnosis

In my second happy pregnancy, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We named her Olga María. At only three months of age, we received life-changing news, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) through the Neonatal Screening test. It was heartbreaking and confusing to face the diagnosis. I went through all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It was a difficult process; however, I was determined that through strength and resilience I would face the circumstances and give Olga Maria the care and upbringing that she deserves.

Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Function

At each check-up visit for Olga María, we are asked if anyone in the house smokes. Repeatedly, we get asked the same question. The reason? Doctors told us that smoke is extremely harmful to people living with cystic fibrosis (CF). They say it compromises the pulmonary system and in extreme situations, lung transplants are required to survive.

The commitment to promoting awareness of the disastrous effects of smoking belongs to everyone. Promoting education on this topic should be a non-stop task, especially for those of us who have relatives or friends whose health depends on avoiding exposure to harmful second-hand smoke.

It is surprising that even with such extensive information and warnings available to everyone, on many communication platforms, even directly and graphically on cigarette packs, people continue to risk their health and the health of others.

We all want a long and healthy life for ourselves and for our loved ones; let’s make it happen by adopting healthy habits.

Campaign Videos

This Campaign Anthem video amplifies the awareness of Latinos with Cystic Fibrosis.

Inspirational Stories

CF Care as Part of Motherhood

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Resource Links

Support Group for the Spanish-Speaking CF Community: Second Wednesday of Every Month

Led by Marilyn Calderon, LICSW
The group meets on the second Wednesday of every month from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PT (8:00 to 9:00 pm ET), and addresses the unique issues faced by Hispanic/Latinx individuals and families affected by CF. The group is open to adults with CF as well as family members of adults and children with CF. The group meetings are held in Spanish and facilitated by Marilyn Calderon, LICSW.

To register, click here. Please allow 3-4 hours before the meeting to register.

Sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Chiesi USA, Genentech, Viatris, Gilead Sciences, and private donors.


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