Welcome to the next edition of “Blugibbon Bites”, our series chatting with some of the people we meet through Blugibbon, including Doctors and others we consider our friends.
We hope to bring you some of the most inspiring stories and insights from our network to share.
Up this week is Cody Sheehan, a dear friend of Blugibbon that has the most incredible story living with Cystic Fibrosis and thriving throughout a pandemic.
Cody is the Concierge Manager at Wellshare in Sydney and looks after the best locum agency in Australia, yes that is right, Blugibbon. We are based in the first-class Wellshare domain.
Much like his place of work at Wellshare, his story is unique.
Cody has dealt with chronic illness all his life. He was born with a chronic illness and has acquired more illnesses over time as a result of the original conditions. He has seen the insides of Sydney hospitals more than friends’ homes and has met more Doctors and Nurses than friends.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
That is what childhood illness does. That is what Cystic Fibrosis does.
Particularly from the 1970s to 1990s, many children with Cystic Fibrosis were not supposed to, or expected to, live past adolescence. Many parents were expecting to have to bury their child well before them, something no parent wants to think about or deal with.
In 1989 the gene that causes Cystic Fibrosis was finally discovered, leading to enormous ground-breaking innovations not just for the treatment of the disease, but what it would mean for the eventual longevity of its sufferers.
At age 15, Cody was given the new diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, something many Cystic Fibrosis sufferers may develop as they age, as they live longer the pancreas does less and less. On top of this many will have pancreatic insufficiency meaning food digestion is almost non-existent meaning pancreatic enzymes and replacement have to be taken in order to digest food.
As a person gets older, the likelihood of them developing diabetes rises as the pancreas will stop producing or secreting insulin. To give an example, Cody has been on an insulin pump for about four years now, a blow to the gut he was not expecting.
Between the ages of 16 and 17 he went into a deep and difficult depression. He was becoming a bit more aware of who he was and trying to figure out what CF meant for him.
He Googled it (probably not the best idea at the time) and it terrified him. Cold hard statistics about CF and the life expectancy of someone who has it. It shattered his world. He did not know what to do. Or what to think. According to the internet and CF websites, his life was apparently one-half over. He was going to live to his mid-thirties if he was lucky.
Finishing high school was an achievement but he did not take much notice of it. Most of his adult youth felt different. He could not really do the things he wanted to, in the way he wanted to, or with the people of choice. His health despite his efforts slowly worsened.
He was eventually listed for a double lung transplant, along with a liver transplant at the same time.
How to deal with it?
In 2017 the call came through on the third attempt and the entire procedure was an enormous success.
Attempting to get into “normal” life has possibly been one of the biggest challenges he has faced, something he had previously not considered. Working and adapting to that has been strange. He had two different full-time employers and did not last long with either. Then one of his best friends talked to him about the entrepreneurial venture her husband was looking to take on. He was fascinated.
Psychologically the idea of not being an “employee”, being a proper stakeholder, having room for my personality to grow, shine and reflect in the work, the relationships that would be created and developed felt enormously different for Cody.
The other major difference is that his health did not feel like a burden. It felt like it was a great point of difference. To be celebrated, promoted and encouraged.
Wellshare and its community (where Blugibbon’s Clubhouse is located) would recognize the wealth of his health for what it was. Through Wellshare his understanding of health and wellness has also changed. From humble beginnings of just a gym in a space, to the large hub it has become today, Wellshare has helped to nourish him as a person, but also the energetic business mindset of health and wellness.
How he became a Superhero with Marvel?
This energy saw him get the rights for permission to use the Marvel brand to transform into a real Superhero, complete with authentic costumes to go and visit sick kids in hospital to cheer them up along with the other real-life “healthcare heroes”.
This has since developed into the creation of the “CF Avengers”, engaging the younger CF audience (although at first they were concerned Marvel’s lawyers may not agree, the brand instead loved what he was doing and gave permission to use Marvel, Iron Man, Captain America and any of the Avengers in any way fit to bring awareness to CF and promote the illness).
To support these achievements Blugibbon encourages you to check out the links below.
It is currently Donate Life Week 2020.
You can help support Cody and lives of others at: donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today
Check out The CF Avengers on Facebook & Instagram here.
Read more on Cystic Fibrosis Community Care (on all major digital & social media channels) at:
Finally, if you are not already an Organ Donor, have the chat with your loved ones and register. It literally takes less than two minutes and could save lives.
We wish you all health and wellness, in whatever form that means to you.