Is 2019 FINALLY Going To Be The Year We Write “cystic fibrosis” Correctly?

Folks…. Happy Freakin’ New YEAR!!!!! It’s 2019!

If you’ve been following along with my social media accounts, then you already know my New Year’s resolution, so I apologize for the redundancy, but for those of you who don’t here it is…

The world needs to know cystic fibrosis is NOT a proper noun. It should not be capitalized. I can’t tell you how bothered I am when I see someone write out “Cystic Fibrosis.” Folks, Cystic Fibrosis IS wrong. We do not capitalizes the leading C and F in cystic fibrosis.

Let me take you to the intersection of the english language and medicine. The names for many illnesses are either describing what’s going on in the body, like diabetes, are slang terms, like the common cold, or are shortened terms, like poliomyelitis to poliovirus.

Let’s look at cystic fibrosis….

Oddly enough, the term, cystic fibrosis, finds its origin in what the condition does to the pancreas.

cysticcyst formation in the pancreas

fibrosisinternal scarring.

Of course we know fibrosis occurs elsewhere in our bodies, namely our lungs, but back in the 30’s they were still in the discovery process.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Gunnar, I have seen Cancer written out with a big C, and Cystic Fibrosis written out with a big C and a big F. You can’t be right!” Well, that’s where you, and whomever wrote those words, would continue to be wrong. Cancer (leading word of the sentence follows capitalization rules) should be written out as, “cancer” just like we’d write out diabetes and cystic fibrosis.

Luckily, my friends at the Washington Post have my back on this.

It’s important to note some illnesses do receive the capitalized treatment, those that are named after someone or some place. Ebola, as we learned in the above article, is named after a region in what was formally called Zaire. Parkinson’s disease is named after Parkinson and Huntington’s disease is named after Huntington.

To clarify, it is appropriate to write “CF” since we’re utilizing initialism, and for my grammar nerds out there, no, CF is not an acronym like NASA.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.


My New Year’s resolution unintentionally caused a bit of a stir as I, of course, managed to offend a few folks who have been writing out Cystic Fibrosis, for what appear to be romanticized reasons. After all, it was 2018. To them I say…. Relax. Read satire, laugh a little and move on with your life. I use humor and sarcasm as coping mechanisms, and will continue to do so.

This will be the last time I explicitly spell out my use of satire. From here on out, it’ll be up to you, the reader, to determine when I’m utilizing it.