January 30 2009

Tiffany Christensen

I have lived with my illness from the time I was born. At 6 months of I began my acquaintance with in-patient hospital care at the age of 12. In spite of extensive ongoing treatments and procedures—at home and in various hospitals throughout the United States—at twenty-one years of age, I was placed on the list for a double lung transplant at UNC Memorial Hospital.  Waiting a total of five long and difficult years, during which, my lung function dropped to 18% capacity, I received my first set of donor lungs in April of 2000.

I enjoyed a level of health and energy I had never known until May of 2002 when I was diagnosed with chronic rejection. There were few treatment possibilities and I began to grow gravely ill, even more so than before my first transplant. My lung function was down to 10% of capacity and was told I only had months to live. Though, as my outer body weakened, my inner journey opened and I found unexpected gifts of insight, perspective, humor and strength. I began to know an inner peace I had never thought possible.

Due to a series of wonderful and unusual events, I was able to have a rarely performed second lung transplant just in the nick of time.

After the surgery, I awoke with a clear awareness of being “called” to work with those touched by illness and death. As soon as my recovery allowed, I trained as a Hospice Volunteer and began developing my talks and workshops.  Combining my patient experiences with my acting and improvisation training, I have created programs that are unique, fun, interactive, thought-provoking and inspirational. For those interested in seeking private guidance, I also provide illness coaching through email or over the phone.

I believe that, given my life experiences, it is my duty to lend a hand to those struggling to find their way through the world of illness.

January 07 2009

Kurt Zimmerman

I am 21 years old and was born in Pittsburgh, Penn.  When I was young, my family moved to Denver, Colo., but we eventually settled in Sacramento, Calif.  I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of seven after my mother discovered I had nasal polyps.  Growing up, I was always compliant with my treatments, and I enjoy biking to stay healthy. 

I currently attend the University of California - Los Angeles, where I am studying Rocket Science.  I intend to graduate and perhaps pursue a career at NASA.  While I have a busy schedule at school, I still make time to for my treatments.  For example, if I am studying, I use my treatments as a study break.  Or if I am hanging out and watching a movie, I will put my vest on. 

Some of my hobbies include hanging out with friends, skiing, watching movies and of course, my passion; rockets.  I am in the Rocket Club at UCLA, and intend to get an internship in this field while continuing to pursue my degree in Rocket Science. 

My Favorite Holiday is…Christmas
My Favorite Food is… Sushi
My Favorite Movie is… Apollo 13
My Favorite Color is… Green
My role models are my parents.
My dream vacation is to go Skiing in the Canadian Rockies.

January 01 2009

Chad Brown

“No matter what, never give up. It is your life and you only have one, so take charge and do with it what you will.”

I was diagnosed with CF at only one day old. I was always treated differently, babied in many ways. This temporarily helped me cope with my disease; however, it eventually took a negative toll on me. CF really did not affect me until I was about 21 years old. From there, it was all downhill for about four years. As a result of not taking care of myself, I was in and out of the hospital constantly, and eventually put on the transplant list.

Because of insurance issues, I moved to Seattle and my life began to change. With the help of the doctors from the University of Washington Medical Center, I was able to get a new lease on life. Being disciplined with my treatments and exercise made the biggest impact on me because I saw immediate results in my health. I believe that swimming has kept me alive. Starting off barely swimming one lap, I now swim five days a week for about 45 minutes and am feeling great! My FEV1, which at one point were in the high 20s, are now at 58% - I have more energy than ever before.

I am now pursuing a college degree in engineering, working 30 hours a week, involved in a great relationship, and looking ahead to marriage and starting a family. Life is good! 

My favorite holiday is… Thanksgiving.
My favorite food is… chicken.
I love to go to… baseball games.
My favorite movie is… field of dreams.
My favorite type of music is… blues.
My dream vacation would be to go to… Germany.
If my friends and family had to describe me, they would say I am… committed.