by Melissa Dylan
Let me tell you about my stepsister. Her name is Jenny. She has Cystic Fibrosis, a “life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.” Doctors told her mom, my dad’s wife, that Jenny wouldn’t live long enough to attend kindergarten.
Jenny is currently 48 years old.
Jenny has been on the transplant list for new lungs for nearing 5 years.
Correction: Jenny HAD been on the transplant list for new lungs for nearing 5 years. Jenny is no longer on the transplant list. Jenny HAS goddamn motherfucking NEW LUNGS.
She got the call about two weeks ago, underwent a series of tests (because ironically you have to be healthy enough for life-saving surgery), and in she went. They did one lung at a time, surgery was successful, and she has been in recovery ever since.
- Jenny’s oxygen levels prior to the surgery had hovered around the 70s, percentage-wise. This is bad. She has been on oxygen 24/7 for years. Less than 24 hours following surgery, her oxygen levels were at 100%.
- Her lung capacity prior to the surgery was 22%. Imagine breathing through a drinking straw. It’s like that. Less than 24 hours after the surgery her new lung capacity was 44% and climbing.
- When Jenny was sick enough to go on the transplant list (because you have to be really, really sick, guys, like completely out of other options), doctors predicted that she had maybe a year and a half left without a transplant. Jenny made it nearly five.
- Jenny lived this long because research for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) medication has been keeping up with her at approximately the same pace. In other words, just when one treatment would cease to help her disease, another newer one would hit the market.
- This means that donations to CF research have directly kept my stepsister alive.
Let me say that again.
Donations to Cystic Fibrosis Research have directly kept my stepsister alive.
You know how someone raises money and does a 5k or something for breast cancer and the money goes somewhere but they haven’t actually cured breast cancer? And we all hope that somewhere someone is actually working on that cure but there isn’t really any evidence so all the pink ribbons and stuff start to really REALLY annoy you as more and more of your friends and relatives are affected by it?
Imagine donating money to something that is actively saving lives every single day?
Guess what? You can!
In 1998 Jenny founded the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides event in Tacoma/Gig Harbor, WA (where she lives), which has raised tens of thousands of dollars toward CF research. She just keeps getting more and more awesome, doesn’t she? I KNOW.
This year’s walk is in 4 days. Jenny won’t be able to attend because she’s busy healing from a cracked-open chest and new body parts. (And she’s kicking ass doing it.)
Today I pause in my chronicle of starting a business. All that stuff is unimportant compared to the reality of this amazing miracle. Tears I’ve shed about floor plans and bank loans hold nothing against tears of relief 48 years in the making. The world is miraculous. People are incredible. Sometimes I cry because everything will be okay.
And in the name of hope and miracles and a happy bubble to all mankind, I’m here to beg, plead, and charm you into considering donating to the cause. Donate under the name Jenny Adams as a tribute to her courageous journey and continued healing process. (It’s long and painful and she is a goddamned superhero.) If you’d like to give directly in Jenny’s name there is a gofundme page, which has more details about Jenny’s journey, along with pictures and smiling people and more CF facts and peace and love and happiness.
There is seriously not a more deserving person on earth, nor a better cause.
Everything really WILL be okay.
Melissa Dylan is an MBA and writer who is currently accepting hugs.