Author, “Just Breathe”
Death was the last thing on my mind when I woke up on the morning of August 6, 2013. I had just started an exciting new opportunity at one of the world's biggest corporations; was newly married to a beautiful wife I was deeply in love with; and was excitedly planning for the upcoming birth of my first child.
But when I walked into my doctor's office for what I thought would be a simple medication adjustment because of asthma-related complications, I was shocked when the doctor said, "You have six months to live unless you get a lung transplant."
What followed was a harrowing medical and personal journey after learning that my asthma was actually cystic fibrosis. “Just Breathe” takes you on my odyssey from the start of that shattering diagnosis through visiting medical facilities, becoming a father, and fighting to live during the collapse of my marriage.
Today, I'm focused on being the best father I can be for my daughter, writing about life with CF, and raising awareness of the CF community. “Just Breathe” is a memoir about how to get up when life kicks you down.
Courtney Turcotte Bond
I wasn't acutely aware of cystic fibrosis until the school where I teach asked me to work with a homebound student with the disease. That was in 2015 when I met 15-year-old Madison Taliaferro. I tutored Madison three nights a week for two years, but it wasn't long before I realized she was teaching me more than I ever taught her. Madison had received a double-lung transplant at age 12 and literally struggled with each breath to make the most of her second chance at life.
Madison and her transplant story fascinated me so much that it became the inspiration for my fictional novel, “Breathtaking,” which I started writing in 2017. She knew she had inspired my story, but she never got to read it. Cystic fibrosis took her life during her senior year of high school in 2018. After her death, I was even more passionate about finishing the manuscript. I wanted to publish something powerful to honor Madison, bring awareness to CF, and address the importance of organ donation.
“Breathtaking” may not seem to be about cystic fibrosis at first, but it plays a significant role. The plot follows Cara Ecrivain from childhood to college as she navigates through the unfair circumstances in her life. The novel touches on issues of alcoholism, obsessive compulsive disorder, friendship, and love, but most importantly, it screams the importance of what Henry David Thoreau called “[living] deep and [sucking] all the marrow out of life.”
Author, “Coughing It All Up: Chronicles of a Remarkable Life Despite Cystic Fibrosis”
I wrote my book, “Coughing It All Up: Chronicles of a Remarkable Life Despite Cystic Fibrosis,” primarily as a form of therapy while on the waiting list for a double-lung transplant, and for my young children to be able to learn about me and my life should I not survive the wait -- or indeed the operation -- to tell them myself.
I was born in 1972 and was diagnosed with CF at 13 months old. My parents were told that because of the limited treatment options for the condition back then, it was likely that I would spend much of my childhood in the hospital and would be lucky to reach my teenage years.
Almost 50 years later and nearly two years after receiving my life-saving transplant, I am still with one hand fending off the impacts of this disease while grabbing life and all that it has to offer with the other. With a steadfast resolve to fulfill my ambitions and a determination not to let cystic fibrosis define me, I have filled my life with achievements that few would have predicted possible at my birth. With two academic degrees, successful careers both in aviation and law, extensive worldwide travels, and two healthy children, the book describes how I have always aimed to take as much out of life as possible before the ravages of cystic fibrosis take the life out of me.
Author, “Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing”
Ryeson Bull, 5, was diagnosed with CF when he was 2 weeks old. At age 2, he had surgery to get a feeding tube placed in his stomach, which is also when he dictated his first children's book -- “Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing.”
Our family was visiting Ryeson's grandfather who was in the intensive care unit because of a cycling accident. Ryeson wasn't allowed in the hospital because of his CF (and having to be careful of germs), so he and I [Ryerson's mother and co-author, Shana] went to a playground at the Seal Beach pier. On the way back to the hospital, Ryeson was telling stories about how funny it would be to see a spider go surfing, but that he might be nervous if people were watching. I started recording Ryeson’s ramblings, and “Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing” was born.
Three years later, the book was released online and in northern California stores. “Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing” is for kids who love outdoor activities, bugs (spiders, especially), ice cream, and friends. The book teaches children to name their fears and overcome them by offering simple coping mechanisms … and lots of silliness.
You can connect with Ryeson and Randall at RandalltheBlueSpider.com or on Instagram.
Singer/Songwriter, “I Am”
My name is Sicily, I'm 14 years old and I have cystic fibrosis. Since I was little, I have always loved to sing. My dad is a musician and also shares a love of music and songwriting. We decided that writing songs together about living with CF would be a fun and positive way to spread the word about my disease.
So far, we've recorded and released three singles, with four more on the way in June. “I Am” is my newest single and it's the most emotional song we've written about my life with CF. It really gets into the specifics of living with CF and how the disease comes with many burdens -- hours of treatments, countless meds, and the daily struggle to breathe. On the flip side, the song speaks to the value of optimism, staying focused on the blessing of life itself, and being grateful for the loving support of my family, friends, and community.
My parents have been so supportive of my music, setting up fundraisers and events to get the word out about what I'm doing, and helping me build interest on social media. In the last year and a half, we raised over $30,000 from concerts and music downloads for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to advance their efforts to find a cure. If anyone would like to check out my music, please look me up at sicilypop.com or on Instagram or Facebook.
Author, “Terry's Journey to CF Land”
I am a 58-year old African American male who was not diagnosed with cystic fibrosis until I was 54, although I had been hospitalized and seen by an array of health care practitioners, unknowingly dealing with the devastating consequences of CF throughout my entire life.
I am the co-founder and president of the National Organization of African Americans with Cystic Fibrosis, a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage, educate, and raise cystic fibrosis awareness in the African American community and beyond. I'm also the subject and inspiration for the 2021 film, “54 Years Late: The Terry Wright Story.”
I share my surreal journey to a CF diagnosis in the children's coloring storybook, “Terry's Journey to CF Land: Navigating the Adventures of Cystic Fibrosis.” It is my hope that this children's book helps to inspire, uplift, and amuse children who have cystic fibrosis and empowers them on their own journey to CF land.