2018-07-11 / Sports

D’ville’s Emily Brown Refuses to Let Cystic Fibrosis Slow Her Down

By Rosie Cunningham

Emily Brown File Photo Emily Brown File Photo EAST BRANCH - Despite having Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a Downsville Central School student athlete refuses to let the disorder slow her down on the track.

Emily Brown, now a senior, ran the New York State High School championship on June 8 and came in eighth overall in the 400 meters.

CF is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine. Long-term issues include difficulty breathing and coughing up mucus as a result of frequent lung infections. Other signs and symptoms may include sinus infections, poor growth, clubbing of the fingers and toes, and infertility in most males - different people may have different degrees of symptoms.

“Personally, I wish I could feel how it would feel to run without cystic fibrosis,” said Brown. “I feel I’d be a much better athlete, but I’ve been blessed with the health I have for having CF. I take an inhaler as necessary to open up my airways as I play. I always remember not to compare myself to others no matter what race it is. Whether it’s a dual meet, or state championships, I just go out there and tell myself to ‘run my race’ and ‘do my job.’ Many kids my age with cystic fibrosis struggle a lot in the shadows. It’s a lot of pressure having to be responsible with your pills and it depicts your future. It can often be overwhelming and even sometimes I find myself in my doubts.”

Despite having CF, Brown said her outlet is running.

“It puts me in the mindset that I’m unstoppable and strong,” she said. “It’s such a mental sport, and I feel that’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

When the East Branch resident was in eighth grade, she made the goal to leg her way to states and said it was her parents who taught her to refuse to let CF stand in the way of her ambitions.

Brown was diagnosed with CF at 3 years old and added that mid-distance running is her strong point. She said next up, her goal is to run the 800 meter as a main event.

“But, I listen to what my coaches tell me and stick mostly to the 100, 200 and 400,” she said. ”I plan to compete in the 800 at an invitational just to challenge myself. And, I may potentially try to learn how to compete as a pentathlete. Overall, states was the pinnacle.”

Brown said her track coach from the 2017 season, Timothy McNamara, was vital in her confidence building.

“He’d tell me ‘you belong here, run your race’ and I felt at home.”

Brown is a three-sport athlete at Downsville - she has played soccer since seventh grade onwards and decided to give basketball a try her junior year.

“CF inspires me every time I step onto the track, to work harder than I did the day before,” she said. “Each season to prepare, I work out vigorously - a lot of heavy weighted squats and repetitions to build muscle. Then, I throw in plyometric workouts as well at repeats on the treadmill. Training can be difficult because I have to eat 7,000 calories a day.”

CF is genetic and the disorder runs in both sides of her parents family’s medical history.

“Competitive training sessions, as well as my daily treatments and endless pills ... it’s so easy to become worn out,” said Brown. “Balance is a huge role in this system. I’m not ever prepared to let cystic fibrosis prohibit me from my hopes and dreams. I try to keep very positive.”

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