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Vaccines bring new hope to Calgary women living with cystic fibrosis

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A Calgary woman living in a severe lung condition knows she is not yet fully protected, but receiving her first vaccination is like being released from prison. Said.

Nicki Perkins has already overcome the possibility of cystic fibrosis by living up to the age of 48 without a lung transplant.

“When I went to vaccinate on Saturday, I felt like I was out of jail and looking around the world.” Is this what the rest of the world is doing? This is very strange, “she said.

She was already cautious about going out in public before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has locked her in her home for almost a year or more.

“I’m not living in fear — I’m just living wisely,” she said. “A cold can put me in the hospital.”

Perkins spoke with Postmedia from RV at a campsite southeast of Calgary. Camping was her only real amnesty in the past year, allowing her to go out in isolation.

In many ways, she and other CF patients are ready for a pandemic, as she and other CF patients have already practiced the habits that everyone else is required to adopt, such as masking and social distance. I said there is.

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“We know that droplets hang in the air for up to eight hours,” she said. “We were definitely great at managing the situation, but not for 56 weeks.”

It wasn’t easy to count 56 weeks at her home. She had a visit from her parents. Parents are her only two contacts. Other than camping, she couldn’t leave the house except for a walk with her dog Miss California.

“I haven’t been in a shopping center, restaurant, or store for 56 weeks,” she said.

Nicki Perkins received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine in Calgary on April 3, 2021.Submitted
Nicki Perkins received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine in Calgary on April 3, 2021.Submitted Submitted photo

In the early days of the pandemic, the Perkins brothers brought groceries, but she said online shopping apps like Shopify were a godsend to her.

Her fitness routine has also been removed from the quilter. She admits an exercise that has prevented her from needing a lung transplant for such a long time. Her name is on the transplant list but is currently pending. That is, they are not considered for transplant unless they lose more vital capacity.

Due to the pandemic, Perkins, who owns the Chinook CrossFit, was unable to go to the gym himself, but continued his boating and crossfit routine at the underground gym.

She believes it was possible to keep a small boutique gym like her safely open.

“It’s the easiest thing to manage,” she said, saying the members stayed in their 10-foot-square space and didn’t share the equipment.

“So it’s ridiculous that we have to shut down. Walking by (restaurant), the patio is full and the inside is full. The shopping mall is crowded.”

She said Jim remained open for about five months during the pandemic. She was able to float with government grants and generous support from members.

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The pandemic has also suspended fundraising activities where Perkins normally leads the CF community. As a member of the board of directors of the Summit Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis, Perkins has helped organize the Foundation’s annual gala and golf tournaments. Of course, it will be put on hold in 2020 and will never happen again this year.

The funds they raised help fund Perkins’ laboratory of the same name at the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary.

Nathan Peters, co-director of the Snyder Institute, said the Nicole Perkins Microbial Community Core Lab will play a role in almost every study conducted there.

The lab is analyzing samples from COVID patients in Alberta.

“We are trying to understand what is happening to these patients in terms of the immune response,” he said.

“Do they have a balanced immune response? Is their immune response too outboard? There are certain cell types that are spiked in these patients, which causes more harm than good. Is it possible? “

He said the lab’s state-of-the-art equipment helped further the research.

“Nikki is dynamic and truly supports the kind of work we do at the Snyder Institute,” says Peters. “We are really grateful for everything she has done.”

Perkins said her isolation also prevented her from contributing in the way she normally does through financing.

“This was my most difficult fight last year,” she said. “I feel like it’s useless for the world. I’ve been raising money, going to college, and working all my life. I haven’t had anything in the past year. did.”

At the same time, she counts her blessings.

“I am grateful that I am not ill. I don’t have to go to the hospital now.”

[email protected]

twitter: @brodie_thomas

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