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How exercise helps relieve chronic pain: Katie's story

Katie, a 26 year old girl from New York, is a chronic pain warrior and athlete. Although she is diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis “CF”, Asthma and Hypothyroidism, she never gave up on her dreams of becoming an athlete. Since, she has started the Mission Breathe Again program to help coach other chronic pain warriors on running and exercise. Read more to find out more about her program, her journey with chronic pain, and some exclusive tips on how to exercise with chronic pain.


I was always very active as a child. My parents knew that exercise was very important for someone like me who has cystic fibrosis. They enrolled me in soccer because I always loved to run and I was inspired by my cousin who was a very successful soccer player. Unfortunately, I was not aggressive enough compared to the other girls. I loved running up and down the field but I failed to ever make a goal during my 5 years of playing recreational soccer. However, I continued to have this is love for running and so I started running local 5ks with my dad and I turned out to be very good at them even at the young age of 6. This eventually sparked my interest to run track and cross country in Middle school and up into high school and due to my success I would eventually was honored with a scholarship to run in college.


I get frequent lung pain due to my CF and asthma. Biometric pressure in the atmosphere really affects my lungs on a daily basis. If there are storms approaching I can feel it due to the pain in my lungs. It’s very weird but some days it can be very painful and I will have to increase my breathing treatments to help relieve the pain. I also experience pain anytime I have an infection in my lungs or sinus. They can range from shortness of breath, horrible migraine, and lung pain that can be dull to a sharp stabbing pain.

Some days, running is very difficult, it has never been an easy journey having a life-threatening lung disease while also being a runner. It’s hard and it’s emotional but the bad days make the good days that much greater. As I grow as a person, I have learned that you can’t take a day for granted when living with a disease that can change your health at any moment.


I created Mission Breathe Again because I wanted to be able to help and teach the chronic illness community what I have learned throughout my life due to being a runner with Cystic Fibrosis. My program aim is to coach chronic illness warriors to run and improve their health while also keeping them mentally motivated despite having potential setbacks due to their disease. I create personalized running programs based on my client's fitness and lifestyles because no two runners are alike and the same goes for diseases.

Diseases are here to give us constant worry and pain, but what if we don’t let it? That is my goal for coaching others.

- Katie's aspirations for the 'Mission Breathe again' program

Everyone is different but my hope is that my program will give chronic illness warriors a sense of control over their disease. I have learned through my experiences that when I run it’s like I’m always a step ahead of my CF. I will give them the tools to enhance their running but I will also help them with the emotional battles that will come to keep them motivated during the hard times. There is so much room for achievement when it comes to running no matter who you are, you could be the fastest or you can be the slowest but it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day it is you putting in the work to push your body in a way you never thought you could.


I was inspired by my mom. She was a physical therapist and even opened her own practice. I would watch her during her days at work and I could see how much she loved helping people recover from their injuries. I also have a love for helping others and I wanted to help people like myself who struggle with a disease. When I was young, I didn’t have many friends who had CF, so no one understood what I was going through on a daily basis, especially when I was sick and unable to do the one thing that I loved, which was running. I used to scour the internet just trying to find someone who understood my pains. Unfortunately, I never found that person, hence, I was determined to be that person for someone else if they ever felt lost or confused.


  • Take each day at a time especially when trying to get into exercising. I always say, life is like a marathon and so we must take it slow, when we jump into it too fast we will not feel as great as we would if we were patient.

  • Living with a chronic illness means each day will be different and we can’t expect so much from our bodies right at the start of running or exercising. If you can only go for a 3 min walk or a 10min jog, it is better than sitting on your couch binging Netflix all day.

  • It’s a journey - be patient, be consistent and have fun with it. Once we dislike running or exercising then that’s the moment we won’t improve the way we would like.

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