Monday 9 May 2011

Living with CF - model Cassie Hawthorne


I'm taking over the blog today, my name is Cassie Hawthorne, I’m 21 and I live in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands with my Mum, Dad, sister Carly and our unwanted guest Cystic Fibrosis.

I was diagnosed in 1989 at just six weeks old. The hospital where I was born were in the process of trialling a heel prick test and this is how I was picked up. I had no symptoms and for the first six weeks my parents, older sister, and grandparents were celebrating the new and what seemed healthy arrival.

At around primary school age I was always made aware of what Cystic Fibrosis was and how it would affect me. But being young and naive I just told people it made me have a cough and loved the attention that my classmates gave me for showing off my tablets and having days off to go to the hospital. It made me feel special and I enjoyed being different and that is still how I see it 15 years on. It is never something that I have been embarrassed about or ever tried to hide, this is me, and people can take it or leave it.

I was a patient at Birmingham Childrens Hospital and in 1998 aged 9 I was first admitted for a two week course of IV antibiotics. I don’t remember much about it just a lot of playing with other children, lots of chocolates and visitors, which at that age meant hospital to me was like a holiday.

I was then admitted another 5 times up until I was 16. On my last admission I was approached by a photographer who was putting together a publication on Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I was asked to appear in the brochure and depsite feeling very under the weather, and in my eyes, looking very worse for wear, I agreed. The photos were taken and published and before I knew it I was approached by a model agency.

Since then I have worked on major campaigns and have loved every minute. I love having my hair and make-up done, wearing amazing clothes, and forgetting about CF for a few hours whilst I pose!

I am lucky that I have kept fairly well as an adult with CF. From the age of 16 I began to realise and understand a lot more about Cystic Fibrosis and prepared myself for what problems I may face in the future. I took it upon myself to keep as fit and healthy as I could and this proved a success as I wasn’t admitted for another course of IVs until last year at age 21.

Keeping so well during these years meant I became a pupil at a top sixth form college, came out with 3 A Levels, all graded above a C, and fulfilled another dream of mine; to travel. I spent 4 months travelling Australia and spent Christmas and New Year on the beach, away from all the nasty colds and infections at home! I kept well, didn’t need any hospital treatment, and came back with a tan to die for….and very toned biceps after 4 months of lugging a suitcase full of meds around an area the size of Europe! As you are reading this

Having Cystic Fibrosis can be quite lonely, as you are not allowed to meet other people with CF. I have made a few friends with CF on Facebook and on the CF Trust message boards which helps as we can talk about what we’re going through, things that other people wouldn’t understand. I am really pleased to be one of the faces of Cystic Fibrosis Week as I want to show young people living with CF that if you keep on top of all your meds and physio, you can achieve your dreams and live life to the full.

You can get involved in Cystic Fibrosis Week by making a donation, sharing your story about living with CF, taking part in a fundraising event or organising your own, or helping to promote CF Week on Facebook and Twitter. Just visit for more info.


Cassie xx

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