Wes Parsel

Wes Parsel

Tell us about the moment CF became real for you

Growing up, CF was always there, but it was a white noise in the background of my life. It was there when kids at soccer asked why I had a big scar on my stomach. It was there when friends asked why I dipped all my food in lemon yogurt with sprinkles (enzymes) in it. And it was there in the form of frequent stomach aches and visits to the nurse's office.

It was there, but it was shrugged off for the most part. One moment it became real for me was in biology class during my sophomore year in high school. The teacher was giving a lesson on genetics and naturally focused on genetic diseases. She said Cystic Fibrosis, spoke to the life expectancy and the lung problems patients endure. I vividly remember my whole face getting hot and red, I was embarassed because I felt the whole class was discussing my fate. I was also embarrassed because while CF was a big part of my day, I wasn't the most knowledgable patient. I also didn't realize the life expectancy was so low and the numerous challenges to having children. After that day, I took my CF more seriously and became more knowledgeable.


What did your first step toward living a healthier lifestyle with CF look like?

As I came into my own understanding of Cystic Fibrosis, it was during the exciting and sometimes wild teenage years. I struggled with walking down two diverging paths in dealing with my Cystic Fibrosis - The first being a belief that since I might not going to live very long, I should really live it up! The second path, is a realization that my health is really a gift. Cystic Fibrosis is going to give me a few more challenges than my peers, so I can't mess with unhealthy things like drugs, alcohol, and dangerous activities. I was the guy in the car full of teenagers, screaming for the driver to slow down and use the blinker.


What about living with CF do you wish more people knew?

In my experience, I really don't want to be treated any differently because I have CF. For a long time I wouldn't tell people that I had CF. I could always sense a subtle difference between how people treated me when they knew. 


When was a time you encountered a challenge and then exceeded your goal?

My wife is a true adventurer! We met in college and she was the only sorority girl up at 5:00 am training for a marathon. After we started dating, she got me into running more consistently and I did my first half marathon. Fast forward many half marathons and my wife and I were at the starting line for the LA Marathon. 

The 12 hours before the race began were an adventure. We booked an AirBnB in Santa Monica, but it happened to be right above a night club. The dance music shook the entire apartment. Finally, the music ended at 2:30 am and our alarms went off at 3:30 am. Needless to say, we had a long night of trying to stuff kleenex in our ears. The morning of the race was a humid 85 degrees and I knew half way into the marathon that I was going to hit some trouble. 

Hours later and I was on the final stretch, trying to limp out a jog and fight off cramps. I finished, drank salt tablets, gatorade and everything else I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, when we got back to the apartment, my vision faded and I started to pass out. I woke up on Monday with no memory of what happened! Despite taking 10 salt tablets and eating so many snacks, my sodium and potassium levels were extremely low. 

The marathon was certainly a challenge, but I was proud to finish. I thought about ending my marathon career, but the difficult journey was too rewarding. Anna and I successfully completed the San Diego marathon with no drama and will be tackling the LA marathon again this year! 


Do you have any goals for the future?

This year, in addition to giving the LA Marathon a second shot (the course is just too awesome to give up on), I'll also be doing my first half ironman in Oceanside. Before my first triathlon, I couldn't swim 25 yards in a pool. I just assumed that my lung capacity was too small to swim because I couldn't catch my breath. It was definitely my technique all along! I went from total beginner to now crazy enough to attempt a 1.2 mile swim. It's the best kind of goal because I'm really not sure how it's going to turn out, but I'm excited to give it my best shot! 

CF'ers understandably don't hang out much, but I would love to get as many CF runners to the LA marathon as possible this year! If anyone out there is interested, I can provide my training/nutritional experience, training schedules, and anything else they might need.

They can email me for more information at wparsel@gmail.com!