New drug gives West Kelowna woman with cystic fibrosis a future | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New drug gives West Kelowna woman with cystic fibrosis a future

Nicole Stringer with husband Ben on beach in Kelowna. Nicole is living a happier, healthier life due to a new drug for cystic fibrosis patients.
Image Credit: brandileephotography
July 14, 2021 - 7:30 AM

A new drug for treating cystic fibrosis was approved for sale in Canada last month and that approval has allowed a cystic fibrosis patient in West Kelowna to walk away from her hospital bed and embrace a brand new life.

Nicole Stringer was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just two years old. She has spent most of her life in a hospital, hooked up to oxygen, trying to breath.

Stringer has been on the drug Trikafta for a year now, having taken the drugs during the trial stage of the testing process. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is the company that made the drug.

She says it took a lot of work to get her approved.

“I had to plea and beg for a long time,” she says. “My parents got involved and didn’t stop contacting Vertex until one of their top people would get in contact with them, and then they would plead my case to this person. My doctors had to submit many forms and send many tests showing how fast my health was declining. I got rejected the first time, and we had to appeal that. It was a long hard fight.”

It was on a Friday evening in 2020 when Stringer received the phone call from her doctor, letting her know Vertex had finally accepted her.

“Being able to surprise my parents with the news is a memory I will hold dear to my heart,” Stringer said. “My parents fought like crazy trying to get me access to Trikafta. While I was in the hospital day after day, my parents were doing everything humanly possible to make this happen.”

Stringer said it took mere days for her to start noticing improvements after starting on the drugs. She was on oxygen full time when she started. After three days she stopped needing it and her lung function went from 30 to 50 percent. After a couple of months, her life began to completely change.

“I am now at a full year of being hospital free,” Stringer said. “I haven’t done that since I was nine years old. Now I actually have a future. For so long I couldn’t see past my thirties. I am married to my best friend, healthy and pregnant. My child might grow up and never see their mother as sick as I used to be. I could live to meet my grandchildren. My future is wide open.”

Trikafta was approved for sale by Health Canada on June 18 of this year. Doctors can now prescribe the drug to cystic fibrosis patients, however, it is not yet accessible to those who need it until it is funded by provincial drug plans and private insurers.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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