Georgia equestrian lives with CF
Her love of horses helps her through the rough ride that comes with lifelong treatment.
Juice Staff Published: 1/30/2019
Madison Wade enjoys riding horses. She has grown up around horses at her family’s Southeast Georgia home and she loves that her gentle and loyal companions represent strength and adventure.
“Riding my horse, Blue, is so much fun,” said Madison. “For me, it’s an adrenalin rush and it gives me a sense of freedom.”
Madison is comfortable in the saddle whether her horse is traveling at a quiet trot or a vigorous gallop. Because the 19-year-old woman rides horses effortlessly, many would never suspect that Madison lives with cystic fibrosis (CF), a chronic lung disease that complicates her life and threatens to block the active lifestyle that she so passionately enjoys.
“Madison is a very tough young woman,” said Gail Wade, Madison’s mother. “She rarely misses school, she doesn’t give up and she doesn’t live her life in a bubble.”
Madison, a South Georgia State College freshman majoring in psychology at and a graduate of Ware County High School, was recently one of 55 children and young adults celebrated at the 10th annual Wolfson Children’s Challenge, held Jan. 26, 2019, at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The family-friendly fundraising event thousands of individuals and teams of runners together to hit the pavement in honor of the tens of thousands of children who are cared for by Wolfson Children’s Hospital each year.
Gail Wade was pregnant with Madison when her daughter was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease passed down through families. Madison’s older brother, Brent, also lives with CF, a disease caused by a defective gene that makes the body produce abnormally thick and sticky mucus. The mucus builds up in the breathing passage of the lungs and the pancreas, and results in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestion problems.
Madison was born 10 weeks premature at a Jacksonville hospital and then transferred to Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville as a newborn. Until recently, when she transitioned to an adult hospital for care, Madison came to Wolfson Children’s every two to three months for check-ups. With treatment and the help of the medical team of specialists at Wolfson Children’s, Madison has learned how to manage living with CF.
“No one knows I have CF unless I tell them,” said Madison. “CF is something I’ve dealt with my entire life.”
When symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing or eating, or fatigue would increase, Madison would be admitted to Wolfson Children’s, which serves children from all over Georgia and Florida, where she received IV antibiotics to treat infections and other therapies to reduce the buildup of mucus in her lungs. While at Wolfson Children’s, Madison enjoyed participating in art, music and pet therapies. Spending time at Wolfson Children’s and receiving play therapy has inspired Madison to pursue a career as a child life specialist.
“Everyone at Wolfson Children’s always went above and beyond to make me feel as if they had known me forever,” Madison said. “They treated me just like family.”
Gail Wade is grateful for the special care and attention Madison received at Wolfson Children’s.
“Everyone at Wolfson Children’s was so good to us,” Gail said. “They always remembered what Madison enjoyed, whether it was horseback riding or sweet tea.”
Gail also appreciates the numerous hospital enhancements, such as the parents’ lounge that were designed over the years for patient families’ comfort and convenience.
“Wolfson Children’s has been our home away from home for a long time,” Gail Wade said. “It’s the little things that mean so much when you’re there. We are thankful that Wolfson Children’s Hospital is only an hour and a half from our home in Waycross.”
For information on the lung and respiratory services offered by Wolfson Children's Hospital and its pediatric health care partner, Nemours Children's Specialty Care, visit wolfsonchildrens.com.