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Community rallies around local teen with cystic fibrosis

‘Toast to a Cure’ to be held Feb. 29

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 19, 2020

 Kate Wood has been battling cystic fibrosis  since she was a newborn.

Kate Wood has been battling cystic fibrosis since she was a newborn.

Photo provided by the Wood family

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Within the first few days of having their daughter Kate, Cathy and Jim Wood learned their newborn baby would have a lifelong battle to fight.

Shortly after she was born, Kate was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis — a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and digestive system, causing thick mucus to build up in the lungs and clog the pancreas, leading to life-threatening infections.

“They had a newborn screen, so we were luckily notified quite quickly that she did have cystic fibrosis, so she has basically been treated since day one,” Cathy said.

Now 15 and a ninth grader at Rochester Adams High School, Kate continues to follow a strict CF treatment plan — including twice-a-day chest therapy to break up the mucus in her lungs, 15 different medications, and a feeding tube treatment each night to help her body absorb much-needed fat and other nutrients the disease doesn’t allow her digestive system to take in.

“It’s part of my everyday life at this point. I’ve never not had it,” Kate said. “I definitely do wish I didn’t have it. It would be nice to be able to go through a daily routine like other kids.”

Over the years, Cathy said, her daughter has not allowed CF to get her down.

“There is really nothing that can limit her. She has played soccer, she swims, she loves musical theater, and she is talking about running in cross country next year,” Cathy said.

As a mom, Cathy has kept a close eye on the average life expectancy of a person with cystic fibrosis in the U.S. — which is approximately 37.5 years — but she said the figure is constantly increasing as researchers discover new treatments and medications.

Cathy said the drug Trikafta — developed through fundraising by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and approved by the FDA last fall — is an important scientific discovery that is already impacting a large number of people with cystic fibrosis. The drug has helped Kate’s cystic fibrosis side effects improve for the first time in 15 years.

To help raise additional funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in support of Kate, the public is invited to the seventh annual Toast to a Cure, which will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 29 at Petruzzellos, 6950 Rochester Road in Troy. The event — which features inspirational messages from CF survivors and their family members, dinner, dancing, live music, and silent auctions — typically raises $60,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to further fund research into advanced treatments.

Tickets cost $125 per person and can be purchased at passion.cff.org/toast-to-a-cure. A portion of each ticket, approximately $64, is tax-deductible. Donations and sponsorships are available.

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