P.E.I. gymnast Cameron Davis is breathing in every moment at the Canada Winter Games and he’s loving it. And breathing isn’t always easy for an athlete with cystic fibrosis.
Davis, 18, has the genetic disease that affects one in 3,600 children born in Canada. According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, CF is the most common fatal genetic disease in children and young adults. It mainly affects the digestive system and lungs. Davis takes medication to help digest proteins and fat and he says staying fit with gymnastics helps keep his lungs free of mucus buildup.
“Cystic fibrosis can affect my breathing, but it can be solved with airway clearing exercises and my puffer. Sometimes I don’t get as much protein from food as someone else might, so I take pancreatic enzymes,” he says.
But above it all, Davis says exercise is his key to a good life, and anyone with CF would be wise to follow suit. “Sport helps people with CF stay on top of their lung health and improves overall quality of life,” he says. “Sport hasn’t been a hurdle for me, it’s more a therapeutic part of my life. I don’t have to worry about declining lung health as much as someone who is inactive.”
Growing up, Davis played hockey, judo and volleyball before choosing to focus on gymnastics. He thrives in swinging events, such as rings and parallel bars. Outside the competition, the Grade 12 student at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown was chosen to carry his Island’s flag into the Opening Ceremony.
“It was a great honour. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was kind of shocked going into the Games knowing I was going to be the person waving the giant flag at the front of the team,” he says. “The Opening Ceremonies were incredible, just stepping out and seeing everyone in their seats before I received the flag from the minister was just crazy – wish I could have taken my phone out to get a picture but I was a little preoccupied with carrying the flag.”
Davis hopes to attend the University of New Brunswick next year to study software engineering.
P.E.I. gymnastics coach C.J. Keliher says following Davis into the Opening Ceremony was a “prideful moment, a fantastic experience for him and great for P.E.I. and gymnastics. I’m so glad for him to have that moment of glory representing our province. With his work ethic, good attitude and friendly nature . . . I can’t say enough good things about him.”