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Bride who married as her dying wish has celebrated a year since she was in hospital after ditching one thing

Mirror Mirror 26/06/2016 By Rebekah Scanlan
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A cystic fibrosis sufferer who married her childhood sweetheart as her dying wish - has just celebrated a YEAR since she was last admitted to hospital - because she ditched SUGAR.

Jessica Bean, 28, from Teneriffe, Queensland, Australia, has suffered with with the debilitating lung condition since birth, but aged 21, her condition suddenly took a turn for the worse and she was left in hospital and fighting for life.

With just a 30 percent lung capacity Jessica was put on the lung transplant list but her prognosis was so bleak the young bride-to-be started planning her wedding from her hospital bed.

After she was married and in a last ditch attempt to improve her condition she decided to embark on a sugar-free lifestyle.

And amazingly Jessica said she and her new husband Cameron, 29, saw an improvement immediately.

She said her lungs had improved so much she was accepted onto a drug trial and is now living a normal life with her condition.

It was at a chance encounter at Jessica's wedding that made her look at her diet and see if a change there could help.

She said: "I've always had to have a high calorie diet because of my condition as I burned more calories fighting to breathe every day.

"Generally I ate around 4,000 calories a day, twice the amount a normal woman would eat, and relied on things like sugary chocolate bars and lollies to give me an easy calorie boost."

But Jessica's wedding photographer was also the wife of sugar-free advocate, Gary Fettke, and after experiencing their emotional day first-hand, put them in touch to see if he could help.

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She said: "A few years ago, I was preparing to die, now I've got a career and am able to enjoy holidays and trips to the movies. I'm so lucky to be alive and it's all thanks to ditching sugar.

"As soon as I started eating my calories in a healthier way, I noticed a difference.

"Instead of having convenience food and snacks, Cameron started bringing me smoothies into the hospital that were full of healthy fats like peanut butter and avocado."

Jessica's lung capacity improved so much in such a short amount of time, doctors put her forward for a drug trial in Australia for a $300,000 a year miracle drug Orkambi and amazingly, she was one of the lucky few to be accepted.

She said: "Within days of taking the medication that targets the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis, I could feel the benefits. I wasn't waking up vomiting anymore and I could breathe.

"After a few weeks, I was on my feet again. It was almost unbelievable.

"The best thing was being able to do normal things like the grocery shopping and spend Christmas with my family. I never thought I'd do those things again."

The turnaround in Jessica's condition was so great, that eventually she was released from hospital and was able to live a normal life.

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She said: "Before, I used to live on lollies and chocolate bars.

"Unlike other brides who are usually trying to lose weight before their big day, I was fighting to keep my weight up so I could live long enough to make it to my wedding.

"The night before my big day, I even took all my bridesmaids to a gelato shop as I needed a sugar fix.

"Now, I only have chocolate as a rare treat and live on natural foods.

"Eating healthily has been so instrumental to my survival, I'm now a health and wellness coach and I regularly help sick patients realise the connection between their bodies and what they put in their mouths."

From not being in hospital to enjoying married life Jessica said her whole outlook on her illness has changed. Jessica said: "The change in my lifestyle has been incredible.

"I've gone from thinking my husband will marry and bury me in a matter of months, to enjoying my life and planning my future.

"I honestly thought I was going to die, so to not only be here, but to be doing things I never imagined possible is unreal."

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Life hadn't always been so dire for Jessica, who despite taking over 40 different pills every day to treat her condition, found living with cystic fibrosis manageable.

She said: "I'd never known life without it, so doing the physio every day on my chest and clearing the mucus off my lungs was just one of those things.

"I'd do it, take my medication and then I'd go about my day as normal. It was just a part of my life."

But at 21, things took a devastating turn for the worse, when Jessica's condition began to go downhill.

Jessica said: "Going into hospital is pretty normal for someone with cystic fibrosis as we naturally have weaker immune systems and pick up bugs and viruses easily.

"But suddenly the antibiotics doctors were giving me to fight whatever I'd picked up, weren't working anymore."

In a matter of days, Jessica went from being an active 21-year-old woman to being hospitalised and bedridden.

She said: "I'd always been really active and loved to travel. I'd been overseas to help charities fundraise and had dreams of saving the world.

"But suddenly my lungs couldn't keep up with me anymore. I couldn't even go for a coffee with friends, as I just didn't have the energy. Everything I did left me gasping for breath and Cameron had to do everything for me."

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Doctors told Jessica her only chance of survival was to have a lung transplant , something she was hesitant to do.

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She said: "Even with a lung transplant, I'd never have the life I'd hoped for. I'd constantly be on anti-rejection drugs and there was a risk the surgery wouldn't work.

"Reluctantly, I agreed to go on the transplant list, but I didn't give up hope there was another way.

"We moved to Queensland from my hometown in Tasmania to be closer to the hospitals and spent hours each day in physio, praying my lungs would improve."

Despite trying everything to improve her lung function, Jessica's condition went from bad to worse.

She said: "It got to the point where nothing the doctors could do was working. With no idea if a transplant would become available, I started accepting the fact I was going to die.

"Cameron and I had been together since high school , so we decided to get married.

"I'd sit in my hospital bed, hooked up to various machines, trying to figure out our seating arrangements and making decorations.

"I was a total 'bridezilla' because I wanted everything to be perfect. These would be some of Cameron's final memories of me."


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