Before I was born, my brother was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). So, when my mother was pregnant with me, I was tested while still in her womb—turns out I too, would suffer from the same condition.
Cystic Fibrosis tends to affect each person differently. For me it started out with reoccurring lung infections, which were treated with IV antibiotics. For a time, this was effective. But as the years went on my body built up immunity to these antibiotics and their level of effectiveness significantly decreased.
As the years went on me going to the hospital was a common occurrence—often having to stay there for weeks at a time. During these visits I met many other patients most of whom suffered from the same condition. I enjoyed socializing with them because they could relate to my struggle and understand the hardships that came with this disease. I made a lot of friends that I’ve had to say goodbye to over the years—Cystic Fibrosis is unforgiving and relentless; I have watched it take so many beautiful souls.
When I wasn't in the hospital, I tried my best to live a normal life: Watching my son’s soccer games, snowboarding, playing baseball, taking my son to the park, travelling and overall living a normal life. Knowing that I could end up in the hospital at any moment, I attempted to live each moment to the fullest. I’d tell myself that if it wasn’t going to be a long life, at least it would be a good one.
As I grew older, the treatments for my reoccurring lung infections no longer worked and the doctors told me it was time to list me for a double-lung transplant.
I always knew that this was something I would need. I had become very familiar with transplant as I had watched many of my friends I had made in the hospital go through it—but it didn’t make it any easier. I was still terrified. The doctors explained that this was the only option if I wanted to survive.
Three years later, in December 2015, I got “the call”.
It was a Friday night and I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was BC Transplant. They had found a donor match for me and that I needed to get to Vancouver General Hospital immediately. Less than 12 hours later, I was being wheeled into the operating room.
Those moments before the operation, I remember being with my family and wondering if I would ever see them again. I remember holding my son and saying what I needed to say in case the worst were to occur. And then it was time. Time to get my new lungs.
I remember very little of the first couple of days after my operation. My first memory was hearing my son’s voice and being concerned about what I must have looked like, not wanting him to be scared. I spent seven days in the ICU before I was moved up to a regular ward. By week two, I had finally had all my chest tubes removed and was breathing without the use of oxygen. I remember going for a walk outside and taking my very first breath of fresh air with my new lungs, it was such a surreal feeling. I later on learned that without the gift of my new lungs i only had 3-6 months to live.
A month later, I was discharged from hospital. My life became much more normal with hospital trips becoming much less frequent and usually only for checkups. I started being able to live the life I had always dreamed of having.
While I was in the hospital I had made a list of things I’d like to do in my first year post-transplant that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. I went to Cancun to celebrate my birthday with a few friends and hiked the Grouse Grin d with my son on my 1 year transplant anniversary—something I would have never imagined I’d be able to do. I was back doing the things I loved, and just enjoying every moment of this new life I have been given. I was finally able to go back to school and plan for my future.
I’m so grateful to my donor and their family, as well as the doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who have supported me through my journey. Without people like them I would not be here today and I cannot express with words how wonderful it feels to wake up this morning and experience the gift of another day.