For Freddy’s Mum, Melissa, research means hope that her son can have a normal, happy life without boundaries.
Whenever anybody asks me what condition Freddy has, I’m asked bronchi-what?
When Freddy was a baby, mum Melissa thought he had cystic fibrosis. He had a persistent cough, was always sick and had recurrent croup (upper airway infection that restricts breathing). Told it was asthma, “mother’s instinct” suggested to Melissa it was something more.
Through her background as a paediatric nurse, she was able to get a diagnosis, with scans showing he had bronchiectasis. A diagnosis meant being able to plan and put in place strategies to prevent or relieve Freddy’s symptoms.
“Bronchiectasis affects the whole family,” Melissa says.
“Freddy can’t mix with any children who have the same condition or cystic fibrosis, as it can cause cross contamination … he must avoid being around ‘sick people’ and we have to ask friends or family not to visit if they have a cough or cold, as this could end with Freddy admitted to hospital.”
Melissa says Freddy, aged just three when they moved to Australia, spent his first six weeks after the move coughing. She still labels the cough “absolutely heartbreaking … it wakes the whole house and makes him so tired”.
But through ever-evolving research and practices, Melissa says the family is fortunate to have access to support, medications and respiratory specialists.
“I am so grateful for the Lung Foundation and the amazing research advancements that they are making … without research, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” she says.
Every day, Freddy has to do airway clearance and physiotherapy, no matter how he is feeling … he can be crying, tired and saying his chest is hurting. It can have Melissa in tears “but I have to remind myself that it is all to make him better.”
Living in a semi-rural area with burn-offs in winter, Freddy has to wear a mask or stay indoors with windows closed. Yet he is “very active”, swimming twice a week.
“He just wants to be like any other child. My over-arching hope is that my son will grow up to live a normal happy life without boundaries.“
Through Lung Foundation Australia, the Australian Bronchiectasis Registry provides information on incidence, diagnosis and mortality rates, allowing hope of advancements in treatments and a possible cure.
“We know that Freddy is going to do something amazing,” Melissa says.
“He is hilarious, intelligent and inquisitive and the most resilient person we know. We do not let his condition define him.”
Donating to research helps save lives. Without research, Melissa says “we wouldn’t have access to the knowledge we have today. Imagine what we can achieve in the future.”
About the Australian Bronchiectasis Registry
Lung Foundation Australia’s Australian Bronchiectasis Registry (ABR) systematically collects data on people diagnosed with bronchiectasis, currently 1,380+ adults and children, to provide researchers around the world a critical source of rich data to fuel their studies. The ABR is nationally and internationally recognised for contributing data to a number of ground-breaking research projects. However, in order to continue this important body of work, funding support is needed. Find out more about the ABR and how you can help give hope for a brighter future.