Your Story: A day in the life of a 10-year-old with cystic fibrosis

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"Your Story" is a series from FOX40's Eric Harryman that explores extraordinary people who have turned the tables on fate and created success stories in unlikely places.

CARMICHAEL, Calif. (KTXL) -- Ten-year-old Cooper Vaughn has cystic fibrosis but you would only know it once he decides to tell you about his day-to-day life.

"The conversation was always when are we going to have kids? How many do you think we're going to have?” said Cooper's mother, Diannah.

Diannah and Ryan now have four children but their first, Cooper, was a very special delivery.

“It was when he was 4 weeks old that we got a call saying the newborn screening test showed that he has cystic fibrosis and someone would be calling us,” Diannah told FOX40.

After a few scary hours on the internet, it was clear that answers weren't going to come easy.

Cystic fibrosis attacks the cells producing mucus, causing it to become thick and sticky, which can lead the lungs, digestive tract and other organs to stop working.

And to keep that from happening is a full-time job.

"You don't get a day off from CF,” Diannah said.

Part of Cooper’s treatment is intense. It uses high-frequency vibration that literally shakes the extra mucus loose in his body.

It may seem intimidating to most but if you think it stops Cooper from doing what he loves best, think again.

"I'm acting in a play called 'The Twelve Days of Christmas,'" he said. “(I play) a French hen named Francois who only speaks French."

But the language spoken in the Vaughan house is clearly cystic fibrosis. Ryan admits keeping their CF train on the tracks means being a total and complete germaphobe.

“We are very vigilant about who comes into the house," he said.

A simple case of the flu can turn into a complicated case of pneumonia overnight. Keeping Cooper healthy means keeping a distance.

"How his disease affects his life, you know, it's the things he doesn't get to do, the things he misses out on," his father said.

"When you hear that someone was sick and they're going to be at the birthday party, well, OK, then we just don't go to the birthday party," his mother said.

It sounds simple enough but when you're 10 years old and looking forward to something more than anything and plans change, it can be devastating.

"He almost has an anxiety he's developed when he sees an unjustness and unfairness, as it were, when plans change on him abruptly," Ryan said.

That disappointment might just be as hard on mom and dad as it is for Cooper.

CF has no cure. While the future might be uncertain, Diannah says one thing is for certain.

“At the end of the day, God willing he'll leave, he'll leave us,” she said. “Our goal is to make him a functioning human being, a functioning adult, so he can go and be."

A few weeks ago, Cooper got an invitation from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to come and submit a "wish." Tuesday morning, FOX40's own Eric Harryman will host the Wake Up for Wishes event and Cooper will be there too.

 

Submit Your Story below, email news@FOX40.com or contact Eric Harryman on Facebook or Twitter.

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