In her second semester freshman year, Lauren Bombardier Weeks ’13, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) as a child, started dating Kyle Weeks ’13 who lived in a room above her in Boland Hall.
Before classes, they would meet to jog around campus. He was a cross country runner in high school, but he slowed down his pace to match hers. Kyle taught her how to breathe when she had a cramp and to stop clenching her fists. He also taught her to shake out her arms to make sure her body wasn’t so tense and what stretches to do when her hamstrings hurt.
Soon, Lauren wasn’t just a person who went on runs, she was a runner. It wasn’t long before she ran her first 5k road race.
“Kyle didn’t know that he was a helper then, but my lungs were thanking him with each clear breath. I went three years, nearly the rest of my college career, before I needed to go the hospital again,” Lauren explained recently at an event hosted by the global biotech company Vertex to announce a $500 million commitment to giving back to patients and the community.
At the event, she spoke about living with CF and how, thanks to a life enhancing Vertex medicine called Orkambi, she is “breathing easier” now more than ever before.
In fact, in 2016, Lauren and Kyle ran the seven mile Falmouth Road Race together in support of the CF Foundation. The next day, Kyle knelt to ask for her hand in marriage and, in August this year, they exchanged vows on a mountain top at Sunday River, in Maine.
As Lauren, a healthcare administration major at Stonehill, quipped with trademark humor at the Vertex event, “Orkambi gets you diamonds.”
But, on a more serious note, she added that her life has opened up only because so many people have “dedicated their lives to making people like me breathe easier.”
Journey to Better Health
That was the theme of her remarks, tracing all the helpers who guided her on a journey to better health—her older brothers, blood donors, a nun who anointed her, her mom holding her hand, and the Vertex researchers and scientists who never gave up on working to discover the next great medicine.
Oh, and, of course, the wonderful nurse who, during a difficult blood transfusion, told Lauren that she was infusing her with the blood of Tom Brady.
As she redefines chronic illness, Lauren knows humor is her friend. To share her insights, she is writing a book called Growing Up Sick. For more, visit her blog.