February 17 2009

Jennifer Davison

“CF is a part of who I am but it does not define me”
 
I am 40 years old and have Cystic Fibrosis.  I am the youngest of nine children, three of whom had CF. Growing up in a big family, there was no time to feel sorry for one single person, so I was treated like everyone else.  Which in retrospect I believe helped build my strength and character.  I have always been very independent and a hard worker.
 
After High School, I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.  I received a degree in Textiles Development and Marketing and worked for a short time in the Fashion Industry.  I quickly realized my true desire was to help people, and returned to school to become a Registered Nurse.  I was able to maintain a career in Nursing for over 10 years, working in the Pediatric ICU and the Recovery Room, before I had to stop working.  The decision to stop working, although very difficult, was the right choice for me.
 
Family has always been very important to me.  I met my husband at a very young age and the decision to marry was an easy one.  The decision to start a family was obviously much more difficult.  We decided that if Tim was a carrier, we would not have any children.  But, he is not, so we went for it.  Luckily at the time I was healthy enough to sustain a pregnancy for nine months and she was born without any complications and is now a healthy 11 year old girl!  Having my daughter, Dara, was for me, the best decision  I ever made, she has brought so much joy to our lives!
 
I recommend to all people with CF to get out there and live your life without putting any restrictions on yourself.  Being active is the key to a good quality of life.  I have always enjoyed skiing, swimming, riding my bike, whatever will take me outdoors and allow me to feel alive!!  Just because you have CF doesn’t mean you have to stop living your life.  I have always felt that I was going to do what everyone else does; I just have to work a little harder at it!!
February 13 2009

Karen Vega

“Cystic fibrosis has not determined my life; I have determined it for myself.”
 
My brother and I were both diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age, but were fortunate because our parents did not treat us differently. I have always lived in New York City, but grew up specifically in the Bronx. I played soccer and was a cheerleader – both activities that kept me in great shape. My youth, while it was affected by CF, was not shaped by the disease.
 
I attended Fordham University and eventually graduated with a degree in accounting, and then worked on Wall Street for six years. I have trained and completed a New York City Marathon and continue to run and train to this day. None of these things would have been possible without the support of my family and their acceptance and encouragement.
 
I am now in the newest, and most exciting, stage of my life. My husband Alex and I have been married for six years and have twin boys, Jayden and Logan, who are now my full-time job. Prior to having children, my husband was tested to make sure he was not a carrier for CF. Both of my boys are healthy, and knowing that they are going to live long, full lives only makes me more committed to remaining medically compliant and physically healthy. With help from my family, I have been able to settle into a routine to make sure that both my boys and I are taken care of every day.
 
Cystic fibrosis has impacted my life and will continue to do so, but I believe that I will persevere and will never, ever let it run my life.
My favorite…
Holiday is Christmas.
Food is ice cream.
Color is purple.
If my family had to describe me in one word, they would say I am… determined.
My dream vacation is to visit Australia.
I love to scrapbook and run.
I can be found on Facebook and Cystic Life.
February 12 2009

Dan Palumbo

I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth and given one year to live.  For 53 years, I have continued to beat that diagnosis.  Growing up in Dupont, Penn., CF did not determine who I was. As a child, my parents got me involved with sports and exercise, similar to my peers.  They also introduced me to the drums, which raised my interest in music while allowing me to move about and exercise.  Music continues to be a large part of my life, and I currently play the guitar and keyboard and enjoy writing. 
 
I attended school at Kings College and upon graduation, I founded an ad agency called Dan Palumbo Advertising.  I have been working for 30 years doing a range of advertising that includes television, radio and printing. 
 
I am married and have two wonderful children who both went to college and law school.  I stay compliant with treatments so I can live life to the fullest and take care of my family.  Due to digestive problems, I always eat healthy and continue to exercise on the treadmill every week.  When I decide to retire, I would like to focus my efforts on volunteer work and raising awareness for cystic fibrosis. 
 
My favorite holiday is… Christmas.
My favorite food is… Italian.
My favorite pastime is… music.
My favorite movie is… Tommy Boy.
My favorite color is… blue.
My dream vacation is… to go to Italy with my family.
February 11 2009

Brian Johnson

“Dream big. Ride free. Breathe easy.”
 
I grew up in Southern Georgia, one of three boys, and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of seven in 1979. I owe much of my determination and my health to my brothers, who never treated me differently and always encouraged me to participate in athletics. I played baseball, basketball, and soccer, and have always been a huge football fan. The main difference I saw in myself compared to other kids my age was that I had to grow up quickly and remain compliant in order to avoid the hospital.
 
I eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Valdasta State University where I met my wife, Christie. I am now a father to a beautiful daughter and, in spite of certain difficulties, feel blessed every day.
 
During a recent dark time in my life, I discovered something new – something that changed me. I started riding motorcycles and it has become a both a passion and a mission. I started an organization called “CF Riders” and our mission is to ride cross-country while spreading a message of inspiration and hope: that no one is bound by CF. My wife, my daughter, and I are taking the journey together with the goal of gaining followers and spreading my message far and wide.
 
My calling in life is to spread awareness and positivity while doing something I love. I know we will one day find a cure, and it is my hope that my organization can help real that goal. CF has never and will never hold me back.
 
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Pastime: Baseball
Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
One Word That Describes You: Perseverance
Role Models: Ronnie Sharpe and Jerry Cahill
Dream Vacation: Australia
You can find Brian on... Facebook, Twitter, cysticfibrosis.com and CFsocial.net
February 02 2009

Cris Dopher

“Keep moving forward.”
 
At four years old, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. With my boyish good looks and southern Californian residency, I was chosen to be the poster child for the San Diego chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My face was put on CFF posters that were distributed throughout the foundation and greater CF community. Before I entered the sixth grade, my dad moved our family to Missouri, where I first learned the importance of exercising from CF doctors at the University of Missouri Columbia Hospital.
 
Unable to play sports during my first years of high school after a farming accident crushed my ankle, I found my passion in theatre. Soon I was designing sets as well as acting in my high school plays. After graduating from college, I attended graduate school at NYU and received my Masters in Fine Arts.
 
In the years following grad school, I noticed a progression in the severity of my disease. Last March, when I was 36 years old, I struggled with another exacerbation. Climbing a flight of stairs left me breathless, and I began to fear the worst. I started exercising daily and my IVs began to work – so I slowly got stronger, both mentally and physically.
 
Even though it still remains a challenge to take the appropriate amount of enzymes every day, and eat as my doctors instruct, I am much more compliant these days and rarely miss treatments. Now that I have CF-related diabetes, I am even more careful about my health. I believe that the importance of compliance is the equivalent of how much belief you have in yourself and in your future.
 
Now, at 37, I work as a professional lighting and set designer for department stores. Having CF and working as a set designer does put limitations on my exposure to dust, but never on my creativity. I spend my free time volunteering and fundraising for BEF, including running for Team Boomer annually. Making contributions to BEF allows me to stay connected to the CF community. All in all, I keep moving forward – in my work, in my relationships, and most importantly, in my healthcare.