We are the Champions!

This Blog has been written by our Cellist Debbie Packer:

Fiona Sanderson, Debbie Packer and Tracey Ward of Miss S Business Support Ltd

I am extremely honoured to have been chosen as the winner of the Musical Talent Venus Award. I was not expecting this, as the competition was so strong!

I am however very proud that my achievements have been recognised by Tracey and Fiona of Miss S Business Support Ltd, but most of all for Cordelectra Electric String Trio in what we have achieved as 3 very determined strong young ladies! We have all battled through adversity to be where we are and we all stand together to support each other.

I must thank Emma Clark (Violinist) and Patricia Spodzieja (Viola) who are very understanding of the limitations which having Cystic Fibrosis (CF) does put on me. We carefully organise our performance diary around my hospital admissions, and if for any reason a contracted performance lands on a hospital stay, then I will leave hospital for the performance – dosed up on strong anti-sickness meds and a lot of planning with my amazing CF Team and ward staff to enable it to happen safely. None of the audience will know where I have come from and that I’ll be absolutely exhausted when I fall back into my hospital bed for a night time full of interruptions, oxygen therapy and strong IV antibiotic infusions.   They will just see a smiley, blonde, professional and well-presented young woman who rocks her electric blue cello! I love the feeling that only I, Emma and Trish know this secret on stage and I can just be ‘me’, enjoy performing and CF can go ‘do one’ if even only for a few minutes!!

My husband Allan is very supportive of me and I am extremely blessed to have such an understanding and caring husband. One of my ward nurses once said to me “it’s almost like he has your illness too in the way he shares the burden with you – you are a team”. Unfortunately, often partners of those with CF find it all too much and don’t stick around. Thankfully I have been blessed with a very good man who has supported me and sacrificed a lot to be married to me over the past 12 years – but best of all – somehow manages to keep me giggling through the hardest of times!

When I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, my parents were told not to expect me to live past the age of 10 and that life would be full of treatment and hospital admissions. They were determined that I wasn’t going to be labelled by my CF and at the age of 6, they encouraged me to learn the cello. I spent hours every week practising, as well as hours each day carrying out my daily treatment regime. As time went on, new treatments came onto the market to help extend life-expectancy and by the age of 13, I was leading cello sections in orchestras, touring different countries and earning money from my performing. Although CF has always taken up a huge part of my life because it has to, (I’ve spent over 20 weeks in hospital this year and I spend over 40 hours a week on medical treatment), I am known as Debbie, the Cellist, not Debbie, the ‘ill’ girl.

My life expectancy is unknown really, my lungs only function at 30% of what they should do and are full of antibiotic resistant infections, so breathing is a real struggle. I could have a few years, a year, even a few months if I’m very unlucky. CF can be extremely unpredictable – and there was a period this year where things got pretty scary– however, I live every day to the fullest that it allows and with a view that I will keep going and going!

About The Venus Awards

The Venus Awards – founded by Tara Howard, dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member.

About Cordelectra Electric String Trio

Cordelectra Electric String Trio are comprised of 3 glamorous young ladies who are musically trained to the highest level. They have combined their love of music to create a highly impactful stage show, perfect for corporate and private events, award ceremonies, dinners and galas. For more information, please visit: www.cordelectra.co.uk

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is the UK’s most common inherited life-shortening condition. CF mainly affects the lungs and digestive system by clogging them with sticky mucous which makes breathing difficult and attracts serious lung infections. Only half of those with CF are expected to reach their 41st birthday. www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

I am administering my IV antibiotics before the Awards. I chose this dress strategically to hide my Vascuport needle!