Charles Michael Duke is a British actor, singer and YouTube sensation. It’s a known fact that Charles is one of the most positive people in the industry. Charles also has a condition called Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that makes the body create a rather sticky mucus. The main areas that the muscus causes massive issues for are the lungs and digestive system. Unlike a healthy set of lungs, the mucus is too sticky and blocks them up. It also affects the digestive organs in a similar way.
Despite being diagnosed with CF at a very young age, Charles is doing all he can to make the most of every part of life. He’s an ambassador for some incredible CF charities, and raises awareness by writing songs about the struggles of his illness.
We sat down and had a chat with Charles to find out a lot more about his own Cystic Fibrosis journey, his amazing work and all about the future.
Hi Charles, thank you for finding the time to speak to CelebMix. Can you briefly tell us about your Cystic Fibrosis journey?
I was diagnosed with CF at birth and have lived with it all my life. It kind of makes it a bit difficult to answer ‘what it’s been like’. I haven’t known any different ya know? But from the beginning of my life sort of until I was 17/18 years old my health was pretty ‘normal’. I’d go into hospital for treatment maybe once a year. There were one or two instances where I went more than a year without needing to going into hospital for treatment. It didn’t really stop me from doing everything that I wanted to do. School/College/Sports/ go out with my friends, go on holiday, things like that. But after my 18th birthday things really started to go downhill. I’m 22 now and find myself on the Lung Transplant List, where I have been waiting for some new lungs for over 2 years now.
Has there been times where you’ve felt ‘why me?’
I’ve never really felt like ‘why me’, and weirdly enough I don’t think a lot of people with CF do. I’ve always said, if I didn’t have it someone else would, and they wouldn’t rock it the way I do! The more I look into it and think about it, the more I think it played such a big part of me becoming the person that I am. In some way I feel I wouldn’t be me without it.
You’re one hell of an inspirational guy working and campaigning for these incredible causes. Is this something that helps you strive to make the most of every situation?
Yes definitely! I look back at how I was before ‘all of this’ – Like I heard people talk about ‘chapters’ in their lives, and I feel like since my health went downhill it’s a brand new chapter. I definitely feel like I make more of every day now compared to before. I don’t take things for granted and enjoy everything whilst I can. I’ve learnt what it’s like to not be able to do something. A prime example of this is me starting to care about my appearance, I’m aware I’ve gone completely overboard on this now, but before I didn’t really mind what I wore or how my hair looked. Since I’ve known what it’s like to not even be able to wash yourself or get out of bed, if I can get up, do my hair, put on some nice clothes and make an effort then I will.
Well, we love the way you look Charles! We’ve noticed, you are one of the most positive people around! What do you do to get so positive?
I have no idea, I definitely picked up this ‘let’s just get on with it’ mentality from my parents for sure. I’m constantly and still seeing them do it. If something rubbish happens they’re the first ones to ask how can we fix it, what do we need to do. Or let’s just move on, I mean obviously there are times when you need to just sit down and have some time to yourself, but being positive is just in my family I guess?
Since we first came across the ‘Part of Me’ video we’ve understood a little more about how simple it is to sign up to the organ donation register. Can you explain to our readers how important it is for them to consider signing too?
Signing the register for me is really important. You can save up to 9 lives from your organs and many more with tissue donations. For me, if you saw someone about to cross the road in front of a car and you could pull them back and save their life I feel like you’d do it. And the same applies here, anyone can save a life with organ donation. It’s so simple and easy to do, and it doesn’t cost a thing which is the beautiful thing about it! Anyone can do it. 1 in 3 people waiting for a lung transplant will die, which is a terrible statistic especially considering all the organs that go to waste every day because someone hasn’t signed the register. A lot of those waiting are people like myself, young, they still have so much life to live!
What will it mean for you when you get your double lung transplant?