Hi runners...or should I say soon to be runners! I am Katie’s sister, Kylie O’Grady, and I am writing my very own piece on how it is living with a family member
with a Chronic Illness. For the longest time I never knew the severity of CF. Kaitlyn and
my parents were all about making our home life as normal as it can be. I am four years
younger than my sister, so keeping me out of the loop wasn't too strenuous. As I grew
up, I started noticing how Kaitlyn was different from everyone else, especially when I
saw her in the
hospital for the first time. Kaitlyn had sinus surgery when she was young to assist her breathing, clear the airways. I walked in her hospital room and saw her with a beak-shaped bandage on her nose. The first thing I said to my sister was not comforting or sympathetic but, “You look like a bird.” The best thing about my relationship with my older sister is we do not stop laughing under any circumstances!
My sister is what you can call, my person. No matter who I meet, nobody comes close to matching the bond I have with my sister. Watching Kates health fluctuate was never easy and will never be easy. Watching “my person,” fight a never ending battle.
Kaitlyn and I have never stopped communicating what's on our minds. We talk everyday about our struggles, fears, goals and dreams. Communication between loved ones, especially with a loved one with a chronic illness, is key. Kaitlyn shares her whole life with me, the good and the bad. Communicating with a loved one about your story can help with your battle, and can unquestionably help your loved one. After Kate joined the Cross Country and Track team it didn’t take me long to join right behind her. My sister not only became a life coach for me but a running coach as well. She taught me how to fight. Kaitlyn taught me how to access parts of myself that I never knew I could.
Running taught me to battle through pain, to compartmentalize my struggles in life and use it as motivation to run harder.
My sister has taught me that running is a way to feel strong, healthy and most importantly, alive. To feel the air hitting the back of your lungs, to feel with every step your body disposing all the pressure from the outside world truly makes you feel alive. Running has always given my sister life, a purpose, resolutions, and hope. It can do the same for you as it did for my sister and I. I believe running has saved my sister’s life. Running has brought together my family, it has given us hope. To watch my sister push through her illness in races and in life has given us an abundant amount of happiness. Being one of the closest people to my sister I believe I am one of the closest people to understanding what she goes through.
Through the laughs and the tears I fight alongside my sister and everyone who is affected by a Chronic Illness. Take the first step, lace up your shoes and truly feel the beautiful effects running can have on one's life. From me and all family members affected by chronic illness, we will always be there at the finish line.