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Aimee Brown November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Embracing Adversity

Trail running helps cystic fibrosis sufferer thrive

Brooks Williams, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is hoofing his way out of the May Queen aid station, on his way to ...

Photo by Glen Delman

Brooks Williams, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is hoofing his way out of the May Queen aid station, on his way to the 11,071-foot summit of Sugarloaf Pass in Colorado's 2011 Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run. It is the first major climb, less than 20 miles into the race, and Williams has just hacked up a wad of mucus that resembles an olive-green cinnamon gummy bear in both size and consistency.

The phlegm is an indicator of the infection that has permanent residence deep in his lungs. For the next 86 miles he will continue to cough up secretions, first in this gummy stage, then as something that resembles tapioca pudding and, finally, as common, stringy snot. Despite all sounds and appearances, the chest-rattling hacking is good for him: some of the mucus in his lungs is emptying.

When he was five-and-a-half-months old, Williams was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF), a chronic life-threatening respiratory and digestive disease. Like most people with CF, Williams lives with varying degrees of decreased lung function, lung infection and nutritional problems.



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