Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity: Our Journey with CF

Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity: Our Journey with CF



From the moment Penelope James Smith entered our lives on April 1, 2023, her resilience and strength have astounded us. However, her journey has been far from ordinary. In those early days, our precious daughter faced immense challenges, from a rushed hospital transfer to a diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) with two mutations for deltaF508. Today, we want to share our story, the struggles we have faced, and the hope that shines brightly through it all.

A Rocky Road:

As Penelope's life unfolded, we found ourselves navigating uncharted territory. An intestinal blockage led us to Scottish Rite Children's Hospital, where multiple meconium ileus were discovered, necessitating surgery to address the condition. Our hearts ached as her small intestines were reduced, and she underwent the creation of stomas for excretion through a colostomy bag. It was a challenging time for our family, filled with uncertainty and anxiety.

Further complications surfaced when Penelope's pancreas functioned at a mere fraction of its capacity, leaving her unable to gain weight without medical intervention. Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) and Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) became necessary. Yet, our hopes were repeatedly dashed as each attempt at PERT, including various medications, led to severe adverse reactions. We searched for answers, tried different dosages, and even explored alternative options, but Penelope's response remained resistant.

Navigating Uncharted Territory:

In our pursuit of answers, we encountered numerous obstacles. Allergy tests revealed no Immunoglobulin E (IGE) allergies, but the potential for a pork allergy remained a concern. Unfortunately, testing for Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) allergies was not available, leaving us in a realm of uncertainty. Amidst these challenges, our family drew strength from each other and the unwavering support of the CF community.

A Beacon of Hope:

Throughout this arduous journey, one thing has remained constant: the indomitable spirit of our little Penelope. Despite the struggles and setbacks, her infectious smile and remarkable resilience have filled our lives with immeasurable joy. Penelope has taught us the true meaning of unconditional love and has reminded us of the importance of cherishing every precious moment.

Finding Strength in Unity:

In sharing our story, we hope to connect with others who have experienced the challenges of CF. We invite the wider CF community to join us on this journey, offering support, guidance, and insights that may shed light on alternative approaches. Together, we can navigate the complexities of this condition and uncover new possibilities for Penelope and countless others facing the same battle.


Our journey with CF has not been easy, but it has taught us invaluable lessons. It has shown us the strength of the human spirit, the resilience of our daughter, and the unwavering support of a loving community. While the road ahead may be uncertain, hope remains our guiding light. Penelope has made us the happiest parents imaginable, and we will continue to fight alongside her, knowing that together, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

In the midst of our journey, as we persevered through the trials and tribulations, a glimmer of hope emerged. Through tireless experimentation and unwavering determination, we discovered the perfect balance of formula and MCT oil that finally allowed Penelope to experience the much-needed weight gain. It was a moment of triumph, a testament to the power of persistence and the relentless pursuit of solutions.

However, as we celebrate this milestone, we remain acutely aware that our battle with CF is far from over. The unresolved question of Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) continues to loom in the back of our minds. We know that at some point, we will once again face the daunting task of finding a solution that works for Penelope. But we refuse to be discouraged. Our journey has taught us resilience, and we are determined to face these challenges head-on when the time comes.

While we cherish the current victory, we understand that the complexities of CF demand ongoing vigilance and adaptation. We remain steadfast in our commitment to Penelope's well-being and will remain open to exploring new avenues, consulting with medical experts, and connecting with the CF community for guidance and support.

Penelope's story is one of triumphs, setbacks, and unwavering hope. Through it all, she continues to inspire us with her infectious spirit and zest for life. As we look to the future, we know there will be more hurdles to overcome, but we face them with the reassurance that together, as a community united by compassion, understanding, and a shared determination, we can find the answers we seek.

In sharing our journey, we invite others to join us in this fight against CF, to offer their support, and to share their experiences. Together, we can make a difference, not just for Penelope, but for all those who bravely face the challenges of this complex condition. Through collaboration, research, and advocacy, we can pave the way for a brighter future, where no family feels alone, and where every child with CF has the opportunity to thrive.

Our resolve is unwavering, our hope burns bright, and we remain committed to Penelope's well-being and the advancement of CF research. With your support and the collective strength of our community, we will continue to defy the odds, embrace the challenges, and strive for a world where CF is conquered.

Back to blog