May 05 2011

Bryan Pendarvis

“Stay positive and love your life.”

I lost my older brother to cystic fibrosis, a disease I also have, on April 1, 2009. Shaun had been my role model, my strength, for my entire life. He was always the first to do a treatment, to try a medication, and eventually the first to have a lung transplant. One year after the surgery, when Shaun was 27, he developed a serious infection that took him away from me. Even though my brother is no longer with me physically, he is always with me in spirit – when I am getting treatments and remembering his encouragement or when I am just having a tough day and can think of his endlessly positive attitude.

My health started to deteriorate when I started college. I was in and out of the hospital, was losing weight, and had little to no energy to keep up with my studies. After a seemingly endless series of tests, my doctor tested my glucose levels and discovered that I had full-blown CF related diabetes. My body could not get the nutrients and energy necessary from the foods I was eating. I am 6’2 and by the time I was diagnosed, I had dropped down to 128 pounds and was so malnourished that I had to have a feeding tube. CF related diabetes has only recently become a well-known issue in the cystic fibrosis community and is sometimes overlooked as the cause of a decline in health. My one wish is that I would have known more about it and its symptoms so that I could have gotten better much quicker.

After my diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I was able to dedicate myself to my studies again. I am a Biology major and plan to get a graduate degree in Microbiology. Both areas of study lend themselves to learning more about the bacteria that can affect CF patients, which can only make me more aware of my disease and how to best treat it. Because I have much more energy and because of my experience with the slow diagnosis of diabetes, I have moved away from being private about my disease and have been campaigning to create a scholarship on my campus.

While my life has not been perfect and I have seen tragedy, I am more determined than ever to reach all of my goals and to live my life positively, the way Shaun would have wanted.

My favorite…
Sports are baseball and football.
Band is 311.
Television series is Dexter.
Holiday is Halloween.
Foods are steak and sushi.
Movies are Donnie Darko and Kung Pow.
Music is rock.
My friends and family would describe me as analytical.
My dream is to vacation in the Galapagos.
My role model was and always will be my brother Shaun.