Cystic fibrosis won't stop me singing
- Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited diseases.
- Cystic fibrosis affects more than 9,000 people in the UK.
- The disease affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food.
- There is no cure for CF, but there are therapies and medicines to make it easier to live with the condition.
Thousands of young women in the UK dream of becoming pop stars, but few have a serious illness to contend with on top of their musical commitments.
Bianca Nicholas from Beckenham in Kent has sung a duet with Will Young and performed for Prince William and Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s just launched her debut single, Hold On To Your Dreams.
Bianca also has cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease which causes the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, to become clogged with thick, sticky mucus. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include a troublesome cough, repeated chest infections, prolonged diarrhoea and poor weight gain.
The illness requires rigorous physiotherapy and medication. Each day, Bianca has to spend up to 20 minutes doing breathing exercises and takes between 30 and 40 tablets as well as using nebulisers and inhalers. She also has to take a tablet at every meal to help her digest her food, and each morning she injects herself with a growth hormone.
But she hasn’t allowed her illness to blight her passion for music. “My therapies and treatments are time-consuming and sometimes my illness get me down, but I find that singing really lifts my mood and cheers me up,” she says.
Bianca’s musical career started when, at 15, she was granted a wish by Starlight Children’s Foundation, a national charity that brightens the lives of seriously and terminally ill children. Starlight arranged for Bianca to go to a top recording studio in London and record a number of cover singles for a special CD.
Bianca has gone on to sing live at many Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Starlight events over the last seven years, including the recent Boodles Boxing Ball where she launched her single by singing live in front of 850 high-profile guests, including Pippa Middleton and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.
As well as boosting her confidence, Bianca believes her singing has also improved her physical health.
One of the many effects of cystic fibrosis is that breathing is very difficult because of sticky mucus in the lungs. Bianca thinks that her singing helps to keep her lungs clear.
“I used to need to have my chest pummelled each morning to clear the mucus, but since I’ve been singing, my lungs have been clearer, and I generally only need to do breathing exercises. Singing is a type of deep breathing exercise and I feel it helps to strengthen my lungs, which in turn seems to help my condition.”
“Having cystic fibrosis has never stopped me from trying to realise my dreams. I feel so lucky that the one thing I love doing more than anything else, singing, is keeping me healthy too”.
- Could Parkinson's disease start in the gut?
- 'Not enough over-50s' taking aspirin to prevent heart disease
- 'No need to wait to try again after miscarriage' advice
- 'Want to live longer? Try racquet sports', recommends study
- Lack of sleep may disrupt development of a child's brain
- Expensive IVF add-ons 'not evidence based'
Family health interactive guides
Healthy home check Take this test to find out whether your home could be a health risk.
Healthy child self-assessment Find out how you and your child are doing with this short quiz.
Fitness self-assessment Take this simple assessment test to find out how fit and active you are.
Alcohol self-assessment Assess the effects of your drinking and find out if you're drinking too much.