Conquering a condition

Senior Janexci Camilo shares cystic fibrosis journey in hopes of inspiring others


Janexci Camilo

Dallas Cowboy football players and cheerleaders visit senior Janexci Camilo in the hospital for Christmas 2019.

Spending Christmas and New Years in the hospital is heartbreaking for the young girl. With her lungs working at a scaringly low rate, she is weak and short of breath. The winter months are always a strenuous time for her condition. Spending three months in the hospital isn’t ideal.

Senior Janexci Camilo was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in December of 2010. Cystic fibrosis is a lung condition, which causes an abundance of mucus to be trapped in her lungs. It also affects the digestive system and all the other surrounding organs.

“I was a little kid when I was diagnosed, so I didn’t know what it was,” Camilo said. “At first, it made me feel like ‘Why me? Why did this happen to me?’ [Because I was so young], I didn’t really understand much about it.”

Camilo’s mother, Agustina Jacinto, expresses the hardships which led up to her diagnosis. Camilo experienced confusing symptoms growing up, leading to the concern it was something further worrying than common respiratory issues.

“Since she was born she always had respiratory problems, and it wasn’t until she was 2 years old that we were told she had asthma,” Jacinto said. “I started noticing it was something else [when] her asthma medication was not working. She [often got] fevers, and she was coughing very badly. We took her to the emergency room and that’s when they told us it was more than asthma. The nurse there made an appointment and we had to wait eight months until she got diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.”

Adjusting to everyday life with cystic fibrosis was hard for Camilo. She had to develop a routine that worked for her. From different medications and treatments, Camilo said keeping up became a rigorous task as she grew older.

“Every day I wake up around 5 or 6 a.m. and use a vest that shakes me, [removing] the mucus from my lungs,” Camilo said. “So when I cough, I spit [the mucus] out. I take pills before every meal so my food can go through my digestive system, otherwise, I would eat and have to use the restroom five minutes after. I also have a respiratory treatment I use so my lungs can open up and get oxygen, along with an inhaler I use every day.”

The activities Camilo loves to do are increasingly harder for her than the average person. Although she has limitations due to her cystic fibrosis, Camilo perseveres in colorguard.

“It makes it difficult [to be active in colorguard] because sometimes I want to push myself, but my body doesn’t let me,” Camilo said. “I have to sit down and take breaks. Sometimes after performances, I feel so exhausted that my body wants to give up.”

No matter how hard she wanted to persevere, Camilo knew because of her condition, not everything was achievable. She admitted to having to give up activities she loved wholeheartedly.

“I had to quit swimming because of all the exercise I was doing; I wasn’t getting enough nutrients from the food I was eating,” Camilo said. “Swimming was everything I did from 5 a.m. practice to late-night meets. My weight was not going up because of swim. I was around 89 pounds, if not lower, so swimming had to come to an end.”

Cystic fibrosis was not only physically challenging for Camilo but mentally challenging as well. With her weight fluctuating, physical limiting factors and consistently taking medication, Camilo found it difficult to stay positive.

I hope this helps someone out there going through something and that they know it’s not the end, even if it feels like it.”

— senior Janexci Camilo

“The challenge is definitely the mental health [aspect],” Camilo said. “[When I took] visits to the hospital and my weight wasn’t [where it should be] I thought ‘What am I doing wrong?’ It was never really what I was doing wrong, my body just wasn’t getting what it needed and we had to work around it. The mental health part is definitely what I had to adjust to the most.”

Despite her condition, Camilo tries her best to live a ‘normal’ teenage life. With the support of her friends and family, she lives her life to the fullest.

“Janexci is [always] a bundle of joy, even though she has this illness,” senior Cristian Lopez said. “She looks on the bright side and knows people will support her. I’ve always been there for her, and she knows she can come to me when she has something [going on].”

Growing up with cystic fibrosis was a challenge for her, but she managed to look past the hardships and live as any other kid would. Her condition is something she has always kept personal, but she now wants to inspire others who are going through similar battles with her story.

“I hope this helps someone out there going through something and that they know it’s not the end, even if it feels like it,” Camilo said. “Use what you are going through to make you a better and stronger person.”