They say you take about 8.4 million breaths per year. I have fought for every single one of those breaths for the past 26 years. I was diagnosed with a genetic disease called cystic fibrosis (CF) at birth. A defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, sinuses and other organs. The thick mucus gets trapped in the lungs, clogging the airways and causing frequent lung infections. These frequent lung infections scar the lungs and lead to a decline in lung function over time. CF requires hours of daily treatments, more pills that you can even count and many trips to the hospital.
On June 13, 2016, CF took over. I suddenly went into complete respiratory failure and was placed in a medically induced coma. Four days later, on June 17, I was listed for a double lung transplant. Then on June 21, 2016, I received my life-saving transplant, unbeknownst to me, as I lay asleep.
I woke up sometime in mid-July to my mom telling me all that had happened to me. I would spend the next 3 months teaching my muscles how to sit up on their own and walk again. I was given the gift of life from my selfless donor, Samantha, and I’m breathing easier than I ever have before.
CF has taught me how precious every single breath we take is. It’s taught me that there is always joy to be had, despite suffering. That scars can be beautiful and they tell a story of a warrior. It’s taught me that I AM ME and I am special—to not care what other people think because the only person it matters to is myself. We are all meant to be exactly where we are right now and we are exactly who we are meant to be. And this is why my tiny tag says, “Life is about being yourself, someone only you can be.”