TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY WITH OTHERS ABOUT YOUR CYSTIC FIBROSIS (CF)
As you develop new personal and professional relationships—at college, at work, or at the doctor’s office—use these tips to help you speak openly about CF.
What about building relationships with new friends?
Honesty can go a long way with classmates, coworkers, and other peers.
Let them know their health can affect you
It’s important for them to understand that even minor illnesses, like a cold, are a big deal.
Take time to educate
Here are some ways to gently address any issues:
- Ask to talk to them privately
- See if you can answer any questions they may have
- Let them know when it’s OK or not OK to talk about your CF
Tell them how much you care. Start by writing down why you’re thankful, and then share it with them:
Today, I’m grateful for
When you're making friends, don't be shy about sharing. Get the ball rolling by playing some of these games:
- 2 truths and a lie—Watch them try to guess which fact is false!
- Would you rather—Two awful choices, one impossible decision.
- Go fish—Any card game will do, really, but everyone knows this one. It’s a classic.
Any tips for starting a relationship?
If you’re dating or you have a significant other, communication is key.
Think about important conversations
Before you get involved with anyone, think about what you want to discuss for each of these relationship milestones:
Meeting the family
When you are dating
- Tell them about your CF and how it works
- Let them know that there may be times when you have to change or cancel plans for your health
- Explain any dietary restrictions or treatments you may have to carry with you on dates
If you’re getting serious
- Ask to swap schedules to help you stay on track with treatment and plan quality time around it
- See if they want to lend a hand with your CF treatments, if you’re comfortable with it
- Discuss going to healthcare appointments together and the type of support you’d like during them
How do I get on the same page as my professors and supervisors?
Collaborate with mentors in your life, so they can help you succeed.
Discuss your health needs
Let them know that your CF makes you more sensitive to germs, so you have to be aware of any illnesses going around.
Arrange any special accommodations
Let them know if you need to:
- Carry tissues or a water bottle
- Leave early to pick up medicine
Agree on a plan
Talk about ways to minimize absences from work or class, like working from home. Ask about the school or workplace sick day policy, so you can use it when needed.
After your discussion, send a follow-up e-mail summarizing any arrangements or accommodations. This way, they have a record of what they agreed to.
How do I connect with my new doctors?
It’s always good to meet one-on-one.
Take your time
When you set your appointments, make sure you schedule enough time to get to know each other.
Break the ice
Ask these questions to learn how to best work with them:
- What days and times are you most available?
- How should we schedule check-ins?
- What’s the best way to keep in touch?
Tell them about any activities or sports you participate in so they can create a care plan that fits your needs. If you think of any new activities you want to try, be sure to talk it through with them beforehand.
Stay on track
Work together on a plan for taking and storing your CF medicines. Try out the plan for a week or so. Then, touch base with them to talk about any challenges and how to fine-tune your plan.