Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month: Green Bay business owner honors his late wife’s legacy

By: Valerie Juarez

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — May is Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Awareness Month. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices. They say these secreted fluids are normally thin and slippery. But in people with CF, a defective gene causes the secretions to become sticky and thick. Instead of acting as lubricants, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts, and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas.

Experts say although there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, there are various treatments available that may help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis watch the video linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omkp2VJTE3c

Across Brown County and Wisconsin, there are several members of our community who are living with CF.

When Jaime Rietveld isn’t taking care of others, she’s taking care of herself. She’s a nurse in Neenah and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just two months old. Now at age 29, living with the condition has become part of her everyday life.

“Everyday twice a day I do treatments. I’ll do a nebulizer treatment where I just inhale medication. It also affects your digestive system so I have to take medication so that the food I eat digests everyday away and I can get the nutrients I need,” Rietveld said. She says life with CF can take a toll, especially as she tries to live as much of a normal life as possible. “I think the hardest part was in high school because I just wanted to be normal and not take the time to sit down and do my medications and my treatments,” Reitveld said.

With COVID-19, she has to be even more careful, taking extra precautions with her already difficult condition. Especially as she tries to live as much of a normal life as possible. “I took three months off from work, I had an employer who was very flexible and let me work from home to stay safe,” Reitveld said.

For one Green Bay business owner, he’s doing everything he can to continue honoring his late wife’s legacy who also had CF. Tyler Arkens is the owner of Green Bay Floral and Greenhouse. His wife, Lauren Arkens, died two years ago shortly after her lung transplant.

Lauren was one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. She’s my inspirations for many things. We did a lot of things together We met in college in 2003. We were just two kids who fell in love,” Tyler said. With a prescribed life expectancy in the mid-teens, Lauren surpassed that, dying in 2019. She was 35 years old.

Long before Lauren passed away, the couple, who had met in college, were passionate about the community, raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and helping other families who were in their same shoes. The couple started the Breath of Life Foundation.

They say today, with the memory of Lauren and her legacy guiding everything they do, the foundation continues to make an impact by providing resources patients and families need, in an effort to promote a higher quality of life.

“Our daughter was my wife’s greatest creation. She was the one thing that kept Lauren going for a very long period of time. The motivation behind the lung transplant, the motivation behind the foundation and giving back and supporting the community,” Tyler said.

For the month of May, if you purchase the following floral arrangement from Green Bay Floral & Greenhouse proceeds go to the foundation to benefit other Wisconsin families in the same shoes. Just ask for the “Lauren Ann”.

On Monday, June 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. they will be hosting a Lungs N Roses Golf Outing to benefit the Breath of Life Foundation.

Original article: https://www.nbc26.com/news/local-news/cystic-fibrosis-awareness-month-green-bay-business-owner-honors-his-late-wifes-legacy

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