McFadden’s Movement was proud to host Pearl Cooley as the MM27 Ambassador of the Game on Friday, December 8th.
Pearl, a 21-year-old Guelph native, recently shared her incredible story with the Movement, including her lifelong challenge of Cystic Fibrosis, undergoing two double lung transplants, while also experiencing anxiety and depression.
Here’s Pearl’s story, as shared by her:
“My name is Pearl Cooley and I am 21 years old. I started experiencing signs of anxiety and depression when I was 14. Growing up with a chronic illness, Cystic Fibrosis, this was expected at some point in my life. I spent weeks home from high school as I couldn’t bear to face any type of social situation. My parents were not aware that this was a mental health issue and that it could be solved simply with health and fitness.
When I moved to Barrie for college, my Cystic Fibrosis got worse and as a result, I became more depressed. In December, I reached out for help. Unfortunately, my health declined even more and I needed to move home.
In March 2015, I received my first double lung transplant. I couldn’t sleep, I was shaky, I couldn’t go more than a couple minutes without my mom in the room. I was put on a variety of medications to stabilize me so my body could heal. Mother’s Day weekend I was discharged to go home. From that point, my anxiety and depression were stable and I was able to live a normal life. Go back to school, start my own business, and spending time socializing with friends.
February 2017, I went into rejection and required another set of lungs. My breathing became worse, so naturally so did my anxiety. I was put on morphine to keep me calm and stabilize my breathing.
June 4 2017, I received my second set of lungs. Since June, I have been able to come off morphine, lower the dose of my anxiety and depression medications, and go back to running my business. I am currently working with a psychiatrist to help with my social anxiety. Overall, I have been doing much better and am inclined to speak about my mental health and encourage others to speak about theirs.”
As a young kid, Pearl never felt comfortable talking about her illness, explaining that it was embarrassment — having to take medication at school when others didn’t, not being able to go out when others could, and all the other things that kids have to work through, too.
Getting sick the first time, though, Pearl says changed her mindset quickly. Now, Pearl is very opened about her experiences – even standing in as a guest speaker to share her story at several events for Cystic Fibrosis and more.
Friday’s game was also the Guelph Storm’s Caring for Little Kidneys game in support of MacKids, sponsored by Reid’s Heritage Homes. The game included several initiatives to help raise funds for a new state of the art dialysis machine at the new MacKids clinic.
Pearl (pictured above with her mom), as she proudly shared, was once a MacKid.