Performing keeps her going
Nevada Daily Mail
A singer, dancer, cheerleader and a member of Youth Enrichment Services and Stand Up to Cancer, Nevada junior Gabby Gire is a whirlwind of activity in the school and community, to say the least.
Though such a public figure, her diagnosis of cystic fibrosis has remained relatively unknown.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease of the secretory glands that mainly affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines and sinuses.
"You have to have two parents that are carriers to get it," Gire explained. "There's a chance you could have the disease, carry the disease or not have it, at all. It really is specified per person. Everybody is different. My body can't digest food by itself, so I have to take enzymes in order for my body to get nutrition. I could just eat and eat and starve to death. I have to do a breathing treatment for my lungs. I also have a weak immune system."
Gire said the disease affected her life negatively more when she was younger, and other children didn't understand why she had to go to the nurse all the time.
"Kids were not very nice to me," she said. "They asked me if I was going to die."
But the disease hasn't slowed her down. In fact, exercise is key to keeping symptoms under control.
"The more active you are, the more it helps your CF," she explained. "Sometimes, I substitute exercise for my treatments. Show choir has really helped, too. Because we dance and sing, it helps me clear my lungs. The organizations I'm involved in keep me active, which keeps me healthy. I also just like to help people."
Through her various involvements, especially with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter in Kansas City, she shares her experiences and furthers understanding of the disease.
"I used to not talk about it and now I do," she said. "A lot of people know about diseases like cancer and diabetes, and there's a lot of organizations to help. Not a lot of people know about CF or how to help. They don't know it can be just as serious as cancer."
To raise awareness about the disease, Gire said she plans to walk and speak in the Great Strides walk May 3, in Lamar. The walk raises money for CF research, education and care programs.
"I would like to find more opportunities to talk about CF on a more public level for people who don't know about it," she added. "A lot of people can go to the CF foundation website to find out more information. If people are interested in donating, they can contact my family or the foundation."
She said education is key to changing perceptions of CF.
"There's only about 30,000 people in the US that have it, and a lot of people are carriers and don't even know," she said.