Understanding of cystic fibrosis (CF) has, thankfully, come a long way from its earliest descriptions of children being “bewitched” or “hexed” because their sweat tasted of salt.
And the life-expectancy of kids with CF has increased dramatically since the 1950s. Back then, a child with CF rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school. Today, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the median predicted survival age is close to 40.
But that doesn’t mean that people living with CF don’t sometimes deal with comments that, at best, are insensitive and, at worst, are downright cruel.
That’s what happened to 7-year-old Daniel, a boy living with CF in the United Kingdom.
One day, a classmate told Daniel that “all children with CF die.” Understandably, Daniel was upset. That’s when Daniel’s mother, Vicky Keyte, had a brilliant idea.
Daniel has a medical device called a portacath, or a “port,” implanted in his chest to make it easier for him to receive intravenous medications. Daniel compares it to the glowing circular “arc reactor” mounted on fictional superhero Iron Man’s chest—and why shouldn’t he?! If ANYONE is powered with superhero strength, it’s a person who lives every single day with a chronic illness!
To cheer Daniel up after his bullying experience, his mum posted an Instagram of Daniel and his port, with a note to actor Robert Downey Jr., who has starred as Iron Man/Anthony Stark in several popular movies. She explained that her little boy was feeling low as he faced yet another hospitalization. They hoped a reply from “Mr. Stark,” as Daniel calls Downey, would cheer him up.
The actor gave Vicky one better. Not only did Downey reply with a RAWR—posting a fun pic of himself dressed as a tiger—he invited Daniel to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Captain America: Civil War as his guest!
Daniel was adorably excited by the invite.