Cystic fibrosis sufferer Nicole Adams has thanked Coronation Street star Charlie Lawson for his support as she embarks on a campaign to make the drugs which saved her life available on the NHS.
Hairdresser Nicole (28) has been fighting for every breath since being diagnosed with the incurable respiratory condition when she was just six weeks old.
After contracting an airborne disease in 2014, her condition worsened and she was rushed to hospital in November as her health deteriorated.
But following a battle to obtain life-saving drug Trikafta, the Newtownabbey woman is now back on her feet and determined to push for the drug to be available for all CF sufferers.
She told Sunday Life: “I really can’t thank Charlie enough for his support and for meeting with us to help promote the campaign, I’m extremely grateful. I am walking, living proof that Trikafta works and I am going to campaign to get these drugs available for everyone who needs them.
“They can help up to 90% of CF sufferers and I’m determined to do what I can to help this medication become more widely available.
“I just want to help as many people as I can. There’s 450 people in Northern Ireland with this illness, it’s a huge number.”
Corrie legend Charlie, aka street hardman Jim McDonald, was keen to show support for Nicole after news broke of her plight towards the end of last year.
Meeting Nicole and her partner Ciaran in Belfast’s Europa Hotel on Friday, Charlie expressed delight at Nicole’s progress and her campaign to make Trikafta more freely available to CF patients here.
He said: “If I can do anything to help with the campaign or lend my support in any way, I will. I couldn’t believe this wasn’t already available for people living with CF.
“You look at someone like Nicole who desperately needs these meds but had such a tough time getting them and you just think to yourself, ‘This is ludicrous.’ She’s doing really well; when I look back to those pictures of her before Christmas, she was desperately unwell.
“She and Ciaran are both shining examples of youth and health and a shining example of our wee country. I’m delighted to be able to say that.
“My best bloody wishes to the pair of them.”
Reliving her time in the City Hospital, Nicole said she was hours from death before going into intensive care and receiving her life-saving treatment.
“I knew I was really sick and the doctors kept telling me I had to go into intensive care or I wasn’t going to make it but I didn’t want to go. Everyone I know who’s ever been in ICU has never come out again so I was terrified but eventually I had to go, I was hours away from dying.
“I’m at home now, this is actually my third week back home. I’m still a little bit unsteady on my feet which is so strange but I do feel a lot better. It doesn’t take me as long to get up and get started in the mornings which is nice.
“The meds and a good bit of hard work have got me here but beforehand I would have spent six or seven hours a day doing physio whereas now it takes me about an hour.
“It’s a bit of a catch-22 because my lung function was as low as 10% in hospital but if it goes above 40% I might not be eligible for the meds any more, which would set me back to square one.
“But for now I’m just taking it as it comes. To live a nice wee life the last couple of weeks has been lovely. I’m still in recovery and there’s a long way to go but I’m doing much better now. I can walk up stairs now which I haven’t done for months.”
During a busy few days in Belfast, actor Charlie also found time to lend his support to struggling mental health charity Compass Counselling.
The mental health organisation in west Belfast is desperate for funding to keep its doors open and continue providing life-saving support to patients from across the island of Ireland.
He said: “The timing is actually perfect because Michelle (O’Neill) and Arlene (Foster) are talking again and whatever you want to call them on the hill, they treat mental health as common ground. There’s a lot of problems with it in this wee place and people find it hard to get the help they need.
“Now is the time to do something about it and these people need all the help they can get.”