Patrick Buenzli: A Purposeful Man
If there were one word to describe Patrick, it would be selfless. Born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland, Patrick always had a simple dream of becoming a broker and working at a bank. His life has transformed into that and beyond due to his hard work and love for people. He is extremely self-aware, loves sports, music and is beloved by his family and friends.
Patrick’s experience with cystic fibrosis was overall very mild. His parents learned that he had it right at birth, but he was healthy and able to do practically everything that everyone else was doing. Aside from taking enzymes and doing some treatment therapy, he did not do any other alternative treatment. His interest grew in learning more about his disease when he was around 15 years of age. He started to understand and know himself better. His digestive system began acting up and one of the tests that they ran was the sweat test, which further confirmed the manifestation of his CF symptoms. It wasn’t until two years ago that he had his first hospital stay. He had previously only gone there for regular tests three or four times a year.
Patrick had four hospital stays between age 24 and 25, his very first being at 24 years old. He acquired some major bacterial infections and had admissions every week and tests weekly. His health took a vicious hit dropping his lung function from 65% to 30%. Since then, he has regained it to 50%. His time in the hospital was isolating and while many of his loved ones would provide encouragement, it was hard to not have direct contact with those experiencing what he was going through. He felt lonely, but what he lost in communication, he made up for in knowledge. He learned about cross-infection, new devices and how nutrition and sports affect the body. Learning all this information was important to him and he felt that others could greatly benefit from it, equally. With this knowledge, he could even connect people from this community together. This first hospital visit sprouted his idea for creating a CF website to connect and educate the community. From the hospital bed to the web, Patrick began designing his website and reaching out to his network of friends and family for support and insight. When he was younger, he did not want to be looked at differently or be defined by it because he felt that it would limit him. After his hospital stay, he became more open and involved and is greatly supported. His company allows him to handle his work remotely and his coworkers are open to learning about his illness even if at first, their understanding is limited. Patrick made sure to say that he understands a lot of the firsthand comments he receives like “it would be impossible to live with that” are from a lack of knowledge or ignorance.
The development of the website was a great opportunity to bond with his loved ones and did not feel like work because he felt like he had found his passion. While he does not do this website as a full-time job, Patrick did acknowledge how lucky he is to be able to work. “It’s an honor for me to work” and he knows that many people with CF cannot work or only work part time. Patrick studied finance and went into the financial business at an international bank. While he did accomplish his childhood dream, his feeling of fulfilling his purpose was not achieved. He mentioned that being in his business does not give anything back to the person, it is just a job, which is why his CF work fills the void that had been open. While incorporating his love for sports and nutrition, as well as taking a holistic approach to the person to ensure that all needs are met, his website is designed to cater to all aspects of someone with CF
Positivity and purpose are what drive Patrick. He emphasized how much it helped finding a purpose in his life. He did not know much about himself, but CF taught him to search for a goal and by knowing that goal, which was to help the CF community connect one another, it helped drive him. “I want to live for the great moments and the bad moments.” His hospital stays taught him about the constant battle to find inspiration and remain courageous. His mental well-being took a turn and he received help from some who listened, which is sometimes all that is needed. He knows many people with CF who have depression or other mental health issues because there is not as much assistance in that capacity. Whether it is encouraging one another or even noticing side effects of certain medication, mental health is vast and needs to be acknowledged more.
Patrick’s future looks nothing but bright. He is full of hope for seeing a cure for CF in his lifetime. He sees the community getting stronger and better, more connections between those with the illness and great steps forward in science. A lot is going on in the CF realm, and it fills him with hope. He wishes to do CF coaching as a living or as he puts it, his “full-time hobby” because it would not feel like work. Currently, his coaching sessions are free, and he is hoping that perhaps he could gain an opportunity at a hospital to provide this service to others. He believes that he was sent to help others find their purpose and connect people. “When we take a moment to focus on ourselves, I think we find what we’re really looking for,” and he has truly found his calling in the CF community.