By Tanna Friday
For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — Completing a 5k (3.1 miles) is not exactly a piece a cake, especially for someone who struggles to breathe under normal circumstances. Yet, there were a few participants at Saturday’s Blow Away 5k who did what many with cystic fibrosis only dream of – completing a 5k race.
One of those finishers is Melissa Jackson, who just six months ago received a double-lung transplant.
At 11 months old, Jackson was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic degenerative disease, which causes the mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs to thicken and collect. The mucous build up in the lungs often leads to clogged airways and trapped bacteria, causing infections, which contribute to damage and eventually respiratory failure.
While treatments have extended the lives of people with cystic fibrosis, the average lifespan of a person who lives to adulthood with disease is 37. More than 33,000 people in the United States live with cystic fibrosis.
For many years, Jackson depended on oxygen to breath, seriously limiting her activities. On race day Jackson walked alongside her husband Todd, felt confident and finished the race in 1 hour and 7 minutes.
The 8th Annual Blow Away 5k was presented by the Alabama Friends of Cystic Fibrosis. All proceeds from the race goes toward research, awareness, and patient care for individuals that are battling cystic fibrosis.