Cystic Fibrosis patient Jake Bachman prepares to run in the Country Music Marathon Saturday at Centennial Park in Nashville.
Jake Bachman will be running his first 26.2-mile dash Saturday in Nashville at the Country Music Marathon. What sets him apart from the rest of the pack is that he suffers from Cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
“You get sick more often,” Bachman said. “That’s probably why they highlight me being able to do a marathon.”
Fortunately for Bachman, who is now 28 years old, he was diagnosed within a few days of birth. At that time, there was no screening for CF at birth like there is today, a procedure that, along with advancements in research and medical treatments, has increased the life expectancy of CF patients considerably.
Not every CF patient is as lucky as Bachman, however. He had an older female cousin with the disease who died at the age of nine.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school, according to the CF Foundation. Today, many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
“When I was born, my life expectancy was about 12; when I was 12, my life expectancy was 18; when I was 18, it was 28, and now that I’m 28, my life expectancy is 36,” Bachman said.
Last weekend, Bachman walked in the CF Foundation’s Great Strides walk in Murfreesboro, a fundraising event for CF research and awareness. Now his sights are set on the Country Music Marathon.
Although Bachman’s been training for the marathon since January, he got started building his athletic endurance at an early age. Bachman grew up in Colorado, and was a big fan of the Denver Broncos and the Nuggets.
“My parents always pushed hard for me to play sports,” he said. “Because the healthier your lungs are, the better it is when you get sick. That’s how they always looked at it. I was a little boy who loved sports, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll do everything, then.’”
He said his training has been going well, but he’s still not quite sure how well he’ll do.
“I feel as prepared as I think I could be for my first marathon, because you never actually run 26.2 miles, or at the same pace, during training.” He said. “I think I did everything right, I think I’m prepared, but you still have to go 26.2 miles that day.”
Although Bachman hopes to encourage young CF patients to participate in sports, he realizes that for some, it’s not an option because of the severity of their condition. He is encouraged, however, by the advancements in CF treatment, and is optimistic about children living with the disease today.
“I’d like to think that there are fewer limitations for what a person with CF can do,” he said.
Bachman and his wife, Amy, attend World Outreach Church and help to raise funds and awareness for other charities as well, he said, and Amy is currently putting together a Zumbathon as a CF fundraiser for Great Strides. This will be her second Zumbathon in Murfreesboro.
The Nashville Great Strides walk will be held at Bicentennial Mall at 1 p.m. May 20. To register for the walk, or to find out more about CF or to make a donation, visit www.cff.org