Can't Be Stopped
Gymnastics, golf, soccer, baseball and football - Victoria Franklin simply loves sports. Active and energetic, she enjoys school, playing in the backyard and running with friends. But, for 30 minutes every morning and every evening, Victoria takes a break to undergo the special treatments that manage her cystic fibrosis.
Tamara Franklin was pregnant with Victoria when she and husband, Thad, discovered there could be a problem. An ultrasound four months into the pregnancy showed a potential blockage in the baby's intestines, a sign of CF.
"Victoria had bowel surgery when she was just two days old. She spent three weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit," shares Tamara. "We were not aware of any family history of CF, but tests showed both Thad and I are carriers."
"Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common hereditary, life-limiting diseases in Caucasians with one in 30 people carrying the recessive gene," says John Colombo, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and medical director of the Nebraska Regional Cystic Fibrosis Center. "In order for a child to have CF, they must inherit the gene from both parents."
The Franklins and baby Victoria moved from California to Nebraska in September 2004. Working with Dr. Colombo and the experienced team at Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Victoria is thriving.
"We love Dr. Colombo. He cares about the children, he knows Victoria and he takes his time with her. We know he has her best interests at hand," says Tamara.
Because it is rooted deep inside the body's genetic makeup, cystic fibrosis affects multiple systems including the airway, lungs and pancreas. Victoria's daily treatments consist of a nebulizer with an inhaled steroid and a vibrating, mechanical vest which help to loosen thick mucous that can clog her airway. She also takes enzyme supplements to aid in digestion and help her body better absorb nutrients.
"In the early age groups, cystic fibrosis is 90 percent preventive maintenance," Dr. Colombo explains. "Victoria lives a pretty normal life, and that's our goal for as long as humanly possible."
Dr. Colombo emphasizes the need to let children with cystic fibrosis live their lives, and to not allow the condition to define them.
"I've known state track champions who are CF patients. There shouldn't be anything these children can't do, unless despite our best efforts, they develop significant lung disease," he says.
While there is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, Dr. Colombo says there is important research on the horizon that will allow for more rapid advances in treatment. He believes that one day, gene therapy, will play a significant role.
For now, Victoria's days are filled with school, fun, and time with mom and dad.
"We've been fortunate," says Tamara. "Victoria's treatments are going well and she's a happy girl. We love seeing Dr. Colombo and the team at Children's. We're all working together and doing everything we can to keep Victoria healthy and growing."