Beautiful student with cystic fibrosis becomes cheerleader despite needing oxygen backpack to breathe
A beautiful student who suffers from cystic fibrosis has become a CHEERLEADER – despite relying on an oxygen backpack to breathe.
Ru Aimee, 19, from Kingston Upon Thames, Southwest London, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at five-years-old – a genetic condition which causes the lungs to become clogged with mucus.
But despite this diagnosis, Ru has never allowed her condition to ruin her dreams.
The business management and economics student enrolled at university last September and decided to join the cheerleading squad.
Ru often found she was unable to keep up with the fast paced dance moves and to avoid dropping out on competitions – she opted to use an oxygen tank that she keeps in a backpack.
Ru said: “I was so excited to join the cheerleading squad and I was over the moon when I got into the team.
“I have never allowed cystic fibrosis to hold me back and despite always getting lung infections, I was determined to get fitter.
“My lung function was just 38 per cent when I started university but now it has gone up by four per cent – which doesn’t sound like much, but to me it’s amazing.
“I take my oxygen tank in a back pack to cheer training as I often need help breathing when following difficult routines.
“I use 24/7 oxygen at night as well as that’s when my breathing is at its worst.
“When I’m well enough I ensure I never miss a training session but at least once a year I get pneumonia and lung infections.
“Unfortunately I’m not eligible for a lung transplant as I’ve been told that I carry a bacteria in my lungs that would cause rejection but I intend to try and keep my lungs as healthy as possible.
Doctors first thought Ru was suffering from asthma – leaving her undiagnosed until she was five-years-old.
Ru added: “I was always struggling for breath as a child but I was just given an inhaler.
“I hadn’t been given the heel prick test when I was first born so doctors had no idea I actually had cystic fibrosis.
“It can be hard living with the condition but I’ve never known any different and I would never let it stop me from being a normal teenager.”
Ruana now trains with her cheerleading team twice a week but often before competitions they will increase this to help their chances of perfecting their routines.
She said: “Even though my university term has finished for the summer, all the cheerleading squad have decided to stay longer so we could compete in a recent cheerleading competition in Bournemouth, I was thrilled when we won.
“It’s always really challenging having cystic fibrosis and being part of such a physically active team but I love it.
“I always take my oxygen tank in case I need to use it, sometimes I will be ok but lots of exercise leaves me feeling really tired.
“Unless you suffer from a lung condition often people won’t realise how not having 100 per cent lung function can really impact your energy levels.”
Cystic fibrosis is a life-limiting condition that shortens life expectancy to around 30-years-old.
Ru said: “I refuse to allow my lung function to hold me back, carrying the oxygen around with me is inconvenient but it’s better than feeling breathless.
“I know cheerleading is helping my health improve as my fitness and flexibility are higher than ever before.
“I hope other people with cystic fibrosis read my story and it inspires them to take up a sport, it has really helped me.”
Ru has also become an ambassador at Take A Breath For CF – a team of fundraisers dedicated to raising awareness and money to help finally find the cure for cystic fibrosis.
She added: “It’s amazing to be part of this new campaign, I recently did a skydive that raised over 4000 for the cause.”
A charity dedicated to helping those with the condition is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
A spokesperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “People like Ru are an inspiration to others, especially parents with children who have just received a diagnosis for their new born and may be frightened about what the future holds.
“Many people don’t understand what cystic fibrosis is, or what it does, until someone close to them is affected by it.
“They soon discover it’s a life-shortening genetic condition – only half live to celebrate their fortieth birthday.
“Cystic fibrosis directly affects around 10,000 people in the UK but the faulty gene is carried by over two million people most of whom have no idea.
“Advances in drug treatment and a better clinical understanding of CF mean that what has traditionally been seen as a paediatric illness has become one that adults live with as well.
“Many treatments now focus on allowing the people like Ruana to have as much independence as possible so they can live their life how they choose without CF defining who they are and their future.”
For more information about fundraising for Take a Breath for CF please visit: http://takeabreathforcf.co.uk