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May 31, 2012
When Bonnie Brillinger was born, cystic fibrosis (CF) was considered a childhood disease. In the 1960s and 70s, children diagnosed with CF typically lived into their teens. When Bonnie was diagnosed at 10 months, Bonnie’s parents were told she’d be lucky to live to the age of five or seven.
“When I was seven and healthier than ever, the doctors reconsidered and said I’d live to be a teenager,” says Bonnie. “When I was a teenager I was not going to believe their age limit again.”
At 42, Bonnie is among the growing number of people living with CF well beyond their teens and twenties.
London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) for many years ran a CF clinic with predominately paediatric patients. In 1998 an adult program, under the leadership of Dr. Nigel Paterson, was added to reflect the growing number of adult CF patients.
“The number of patients in the paediatric and adult clinics used to be on par, now were seeing a lot more adults than children,” says Tracy Gooyers, Adult Nurse Case Manager in the CF Clinic. “With new therapies and advancement in treatment, people are living much longer.”
For Bonnie, the adult CF clinic provides access to everyone she needs for her care, from her physician to social worker, dietician and physiotherapist, all within one appointment. This is especially beneficial for patients coming from the region, including Chatham, Owen Sound and Woodstock.
“It’s a real relief to have the whole team there, so I can accomplish everything in one session,” says Bonnie. “Everyone is warm, open, compassionate, and I really like the continuity of care.”