PERU - When Brooke Taptick was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 10 days old, her parents didn't know what to do.
"We were just in disbelief," said Brooke's mother, Meghan Daley Taptick. "It was almost like there was a cloud over our heads."
Taptick, a Peru native, and her husband, Mike, who both reside in Rutland, Vt., didn't know much about the chronic disease which affects a person's lungs and digestive system. For Taptick, the words cystic fibrosis were ones that, at first, left her feeling "isolated and alone."
"I hadn't really heard of CF before. I didn't know anyone who had it," she said. "That was a really scary thing."
However, it wasn't long before Taptick found the disease was more common than she thought.
"When I told all of my friends, it seemed like every one of them knew someone with CF," she said. "People came out of the woodwork."
The Tapticks were soon put in touch with other families who have or have had loved ones with CF through a parent advisory group at Vermont Children's Hospital. It was a relief to the Tapticks to know they weren't alone in helping a family member combat the disease.
"Talking to other moms with children that have CF is a huge help," said Brooke's mother.
When Brooke was first diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the Tapticks took their daughter to see a CF specialist. There, the doctor said it was an "exciting time in the world of cystic fibrosis" because of the medical advancements that have been made since the condition was first discovered.
"It was kind of hard to hear that," said Taptick. "But it was because they're on the horizon of developing a drug that's supposed to make a huge difference to everyone with CF, to make the cells work properly."
The doctor informed the Tapticks that the life expectancy of a child with CF had grown from where it was even 10 years ago, when those with the disease weren't expected to live past their 20s.
"Now it's in the 30s and it's quickly rising," said Taptick. "I know someone who is 35 living with CF and when he was born, he wasn't supposed to live past 7. That just shows how far we've come."
However, the estimated 30,000 Americans living with CF aren't out of the woods, yet. The disease still complicates the body's ability to absorb fat and causes respiratory problems.
"In the lungs of people with CF, mucus forms making it harder to breathe, and the mucus can cause respiratory infections," explained Taptick. "We've been lucky, though. Brooke's lungs have been clear every time we've checked."
Now 16 months old, Brooke's condition, however, requires her to undergo chest physical therapy twice a day for 25 minutes at a time.
"We cup our hands and hit her chest to pull the mucus off of her lungs," explained Taptick.
Though there are other methods for helping combat the mucus problem, such as expensive high-tech vests, which do the same job and nebulizers to help with breathing, Taptick said she'd like to see more than remedies for the disease. She wants a cure.
That's why Taptick is working with Colours Salon on Main Street in Peru to host "Cuts for a Cure," Sunday, Aug. 22. The event will consist of haircuts by appointment with proceeds to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Appointments may be made by calling the salon at 643-2655.
The day will also consist of raffle prizes and other drawings, as well as a baked goods sale.
Those who miss the event may send donations in care of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to Taptick's parents, Mike and Ila Daley, 2 LaFlure Lane, Peru N.Y. 12972.