Calgary

Stay home, plead the parents of a boy with cystic fibrosis — his life depends on social distancing

Brady Hansen's stress level is at a 100 out of 10 these days. Her four-year-old son, Jaxon, has cystic fibrosis, and the COVID-19 pandemic gives her extreme anxiety. 

Four-year-old Jaxon Lee has cystic fibrosis — if he contracts COVID-19, it will be life threatening

Brady, Wes and Jaxon are in self-isolation to keep Jaxon safe. (Brady Hansen)

Brady Hansen's stress level is at a 100 out of 10 these days. 

Her four-year-old son, Jaxon, has cystic fibrosis, and the COVID-19 pandemic gives her extreme anxiety. 

"I can't begin to explain what we're constantly thinking about everyday," Hansen said. 

Jaxon was diagnosed with the genetic disorder at just 10 days old. 

This little four-year-old Albertan is exactly why you need to take coronavirus seriously. His parents are asking everyone to stay home when possible, practice social distancing and wash your hands. 1:27

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, it is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting young Canadians. While it's primarily a lung disease, it can affect multiple organs.

"He takes four different medications every day right now and he has to take medication to absorb any food that he takes and just in the last couple months we started doing a breathing treatment on his lungs," Hansen said. 

That means Jaxon has to contend with a compromised immune system — which weakens the body's ability to fight illnesses like COVID-19. Seasonal influenza has landed him in the hospital, twice.

Hansen said when Alberta reported its first case, she pulled her son out of pre-school to be safe.  She also stopped taking him out of the home to his speech therapy appointments. 

Family in self-isolation

She, her husband Wes, Jaxon and their 10-month-old daughter Addison, have been in self-isolation on their acreage near High River, Alta. 

"With him being a four-year-old, he's not understanding what's going on in the world, thank God. He's still living his life and having the time of his life every day. We don't have to explain the mental part to him, but it takes a toll on us, that's for sure," Hansen said. 

Wes Lee, Jaxon's dad, said he gets frustrated seeing people not paying attention to social distancing measures. 

"You still see people in the pubs and stuff, and you just wish — nobody likes a beer more than me — and I just wish those people would go home and hang out and let it ride for two weeks," Lee said. 

This isn't new for our CF population, so it's kind of interesting to see now the whole world having to pretend they have CF. This is really what it's like.-Jeanette Demers-Weir, Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Jeanette Demers-Weir, the Alberta regional manager for Cystic Fibrosis Canada, can relate to the family's worries — her 22-year-old son has CF. 

Demers-Weir said staying two metres apart from others and constant handwashing is just part of daily life for a cystic fibrosis patient.

"This isn't new for our CF population, so it's kind of interesting to see now the whole world having to pretend they have CF. This is really what it's like," Demers-Weir said. 

Around 600 people in Alberta have cystic fibrosis. There are a range of other reasons someone could become immunocompromised, from cancer or transplant patients who may take drugs that suppress their immune system, to those with inherited immune system disorders.

If Jaxon catches the novel coronoavirus, it could very likely be lifethreatening.

His parents are hoping their story will encourage more people to stay home — if not for their own health and safety, for their son's. 

The province reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total in the province to 486, the majority in the Calgary zone.

Health officials confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19 at McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Home in southeast Calgary, bringing the total to 13 residents and one staff member. One of the residents of the seniors home, a woman in her 80s, died Tuesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

There has been one other death from COVID-19 in the province so far, a man from Edmonton.

Twenty-one people are now in hospital with the illness, including 10 in intensive-care units. The province has seen outbreaks in nursing homes and at a group home for people with developmental disabilities.

The latest recommendations on how to stop the spread of the virus and how to recognize symptoms can be found on the Alberta Health website.

  • How have you been affected by the coronavirus? Let us know by emailing covid@cbc.ca, and include 'personal story' in your subject line.

About the Author

Terri Trembath

Video Journalist

Terri Trembath is a video journalist who joined CBC Calgary in 2008. You can reach her at terri.trembath@cbc.ca.

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