Meet the patient: Paul

When I was born I was not a lucky child. I was a weak sickly child who at the age of two was given two weeks to live. It was at that juncture my luck changed. One of my myriad of doctors knew the symptoms that I was displaying were those of cystic fibrosis. My death sentence was overnight commuted to a life of treatment for, and living with, the debilitating disease. My parents were told that I would live to a maximum of 20 years of age and that I would never father children.

Living with cystic fibrosis proved to be a struggle for me during my younger life. I seemed to be battling constantly to balance treatments with school life. On a daily basis I needed physiotherapy with breathing techniques, whilst I also had to take over thirty tablets with nebulised antibiotics.

My parents always tried to ensure I led a normal life and never wrapped me in cotton wool. Their doing this however, tended to make life more difficult for me. Try, as I might, I just could not keep up with, or compete with my peers. This caused me huge frustration as I was naturally a competitive lad.

It was not until I had left school that I realised the only way for my competitive edge to be satisfied was for me to compete against myself. I had one of those eureka moments as it suddenly dawned on me that to compete, I had to beat myself, at my own game

I knew my health and fitness was critical. I had been hospitalised four times with severe lung problems including coughing up blood which resulted in me having a procedure called a bronchoscopy. I’ve also had extreme bowl problems which nearly resulted in me having a colostomy bag fitted. However, my good luck held and I was spared this very unfortunate condition.

This proved to me that if I was going to beat cystic fibrosis I needed something radical as I was determined to survive past the age of thirty. Believe me, there is no greater motivator to start exercising than being told it was unlikely on my surviving to reach old age. I turned that fear and that anger into fuel! At the beginning I couldn't run 10 meters without feeling that I had to stop due to lack of oxygen, but I found that slow progress was better than no progress. It took perseverance but before long I was jogging five miles home after work. I was getting fit for the greatest of reasons, to give myself life.

It was at the age of 27 I had another huge slice of luck. My wife and I decided that we would try for a baby and IVF treatment resulted in the arrival of our perfect little girl, Amelia. This is when I decided that I would never live my life on borrowed time, I would be there for my child for as long as I possibly could.

Although I was running and getting far fitter I started reading about the benefits of weight training to complement my cardio fitness. I researched all of the things that would improve my health. I started to train like my life depends on it, which of course it does. I became fitter than I had ever been in my life. I decided that if I could win my personal battle, I wanted to use my own experience to help others to win theirs.

In order to do this I became a personal trainer. I felt that I could truly help people overcome their own fitness problems and attain personal goals and achievements.

I recently took part in my first prestigious natural body building competition; at the age of 33 I entered the fitness model category with over 100 other competitors. The primary reason for me doing this was to show people that anything is achievable.

My luck has manifested itself again, as a recent advance in medicine allows me to receive a new breakthrough drug, Kalidako. Together with my fitness this has improved my quality of life immeasurably.

Although I have worked extremely hard to prove that cystic fibrosis need not be a death sentence I could not have done it without the invaluable support of my friends and family. They, together with the continued treatments and help from Southampton General Hospital, ensured that I am here to tell this story!

Not forgetting, of course, those huge slices of luck.