Hello everyone, my name is Jess, and I am a 36-year-old living with cystic fibrosis. I’m actually writing this from my 34th country, Cambodia, and wanted to tell you all a little bit about myself and my travels with cystic fibrosis. Firstly, I consider myself very lucky that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have, and work and live overseas also. I work extremely hard to keep my health the best it can be, namely being strict with my medication and physio regime, so that I can work and save in order to travel around the world as much as I can. When I was younger, I travelled around most of Australia with my family in a caravan, and it wasn’t until I was 22 that I started overseas travel.
My first trip overseas I actually moved to Canada on a working visa, much to the surprise and worry of my parents. I applied for and got a job contract for 8 months, working the summer season as a housekeeper in Lake Louise, Alberta. This was the beginning of my travel addiction or travel bug, as they say. Since then, I have been to 34 countries, on 6 continents, along with 24 states in USA, and out of those 34 countries, 30 of them were on my own.
As a single, female, cystic fibrosis traveller, I learnt so much about myself and my own independence, but also how to deal with any health-related problems along the way. Throughout all my travels, I always made sure I had comprehensive travel insurance. I use Covermore, purely because they were recommended to me, and I have now used them on every trip. I have, however, never gotten cover for my cystic fibrosis, which was my own decision, knowing that getting insurance cover for a pre-existing illness can be very difficult and a lot more expensive as well.
I discussed the options with my doctors/team, and we came to the conclusion that if I ever got extremely sick overseas, (that is relating to my cystic fibrosis), it was cheaper for me to fly home as soon as possible. Luckily, I have never had to do this, while I have gotten sick a few times overseas, I was able to treat it with my usual antibiotics and lots of physio.
The one time I actually had to claim my insurance was in Peru, of all places. A non-English speaking country where, I was so concerned about my lungs being okay at 16000 ft, I didn’t realise I had kidney stones until I couldn’t move from the pain. I was hospitalised for one night and thanks to google translate, I told them I wasn’t staying any longer as I wanted to climb Machu Picchu the next day, which I did, in horrendous pain. I was worried about my travel insurance in the whole process as well, however I was lucky in that my kidney stones were not cystic fibrosis related, so I was fully covered and Covermore paid all my medical expenses.
When I look back at some of my trips now, I realise I probably wasn’t insured for some of the extreme things I did, like white water rafting in Canada, paragliding in Switzerland and swimming with seals in South America to name a few. But as I always say, you only live once. Life is far too short, especially for those of us with cystic fibrosis. My dream is to keep traveling as much as I can, and share my travels and crazy stories with everyone, whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube, which will hopefully gain more awareness for cystic fibrosis in the process.
Cystic Fibrosis Queensland is the peak community NFP community charity working with and for the increasing number of people living with cystic fibrosis who attend a Queensland Health Clinic for treatment. Cystic Fibrosis Queensland funds research, advocates on the behalf of and delivers support and service programs to people living with cystic fibrosis. Our mission is Lives unaffected by Cystic Fibrosis and we assist everyone affected by cystic fibrosis to live fuller, healthier lives.
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Such an inspiring young lady. Proud of you for everything you have accomplished.
You are such an inspiration, Jess.
amazing read. Privileged to have had the honour to travel with you!
Awesome to hear of such an inspiring sense of adventure in an adult with Cf. I have a friend who is an active campaigner for the CF trust and I would love to share your story with her. It must run in your family, being awesome!