Many Canadians are unaware that for those with CF, infection control and prevention is one of the most vital issues to manage.

Those living with CF must be mindful of their interactions in order to reduce the risk of getting and spreading dangerous germs that can lead to serious lung infections. Jeremie Saunders, 27, lives with CF and manages infection control on a daily basis. With two of his best friends, he recently launched the Sickboy podcast, a show designed to bring humour to and end the stigma around conversations about chronic illness. The reception has been exceptional, after successfully raising over $12,000 via Kickstarter and garnering national attention. 

Mediaplanet What inspired you to start your podcast, Sickboy?

Jeremie Saunders  The main inspiration was laughter. For as long as I can remember, I have used humour as a major form of therapy in living with CF. First off, a hearty laugh is a killer workout for my lungs and helps me clear out a good portion of the mucus that naturally builds up in my airways. Secondly, I find that laughter is a great way to find levity in an otherwise grim situation. That’s where the podcast started. Originally, it was an excuse to get together with my two best friends and find humour in the absurdity of living with illness, and it’s since taken off from there. 

“ …I find that laughter is a great way to find levity in an otherwise grim situation.”

MP How has your experience with CF been shaped by infection control policies?

JS  Well, first of all, I’ve never experienced a CF group hug. Bummer, right?  In all honesty, it hasn’t shaped my experience that drastically. For most of my life I’ve had a very independent experience dealing with CF. Growing up, I never had an urge to sit down with other people who suffer from CF and share and compare as a way to deal with my situation. I was able to find other ways to manage my issues, and for that I think I’m pretty lucky. Since the inception of Sickboy, however, I now realize how important those conversations are for people dealing with illness. This is yet another reason for the podcast. Being able to share my experience openly, and even have other CF guests on the show (following infection control policies by suiting up in gloves, gowns, and masks) to have a back and forth, makes the conversation accessible for others — so they can listen in and relate.

MP How has Sickboy helped you connect with not only other CF patients, but individuals suffering from other diseases as well?

JS  There is this really beautiful thing about going into the studio, sitting down with my two best friends and a guest, and having this extremely frank, open, and oftentimes offside conversation about illness. For two hours we are able to shed any of the shame or stigma that oftentimes is attached to discussing illness, and with that comes this super-meaningful and deep connection. It’s my favourite thing.

MP Do you have any advice that you’d like to give some-one that is affected by CF?

JS  Yes, my advice comes in the form of a quote from Zen philosopher Dogen Zenji: 

“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life.”

I love that quote, “Don’t squander your life.” How great is that? How I see it — your diagnosis of cystic fibrosis is a pretty incredible gift. A gift meant to force you to “awaken” and cherish every single breath you take. So just own it.  

Take a listen to the first episode of Sickboy below, and check out their website. Please be cautioned that there is explicit language, and mature themes are covered.