Jackie was born with cystic fibrosis, and from day one her parents accepted the disorder and seized it. They did not treat her any differently and she had a seemingly normal childhood. Growing up she can recall playing with neighborhood children, going to the pool, and spending time with her older brother. All things a growing child does. From a very young age, Jackie was always vocal about her illness, she didn’t consider herself being different but knew her daily routine consisted of a “little extra” than others. She can remember a time in daycare, when she was about three years old, taking her daily enzymes with a cup of applesauce.
“Everyone hears about CF but doesn’t really know about it”
As she grew older she never let cystic fibrosis slow her down. By the age of twelve already having undergone numerous surgeries, she persevered and eventually gained her independence. Growing up, her mother was her primary care giver but, Jackie took care of herself and after high school attended Radford University. Here she joined a sorority, studied finance and lived on her own.
Everything seemed to be going great for this remarkable young woman. On the outside, anyone who saw her, simply saw Jackie. They didn’t see her reality, of having to wear a chest vest for her lungs, or making sure she was on top of her daily medicines and vitamins. Even with a 28% lung function she made sure to have a social life and excel at her career in corporate finance. Everything was going well, until her lungs could no longer support her, and she was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital for a double lung transplant on June 21, 2016. She spent a fair amount of time in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, recovering, but her positive attitude and willingness to move forward has yet to stop her.
“I always find it interesting, because you talk to people, and they’ve heard of CF but they don’t actually know what it is.”
For the past year and a half, Jackie has been focusing on her mind, body and soul: every day setting new goals, and reaching them. In the Fall of 2017 she began to blog about her life, where she hopes to bring awareness to people waiting for any type of transplant and specifically CF lung transplants, Priceless Breaths. She also shares her personal journey on Instagram @pricelessbreaths. The secret behind her strength? Positive attitude, perseverance and determination to succeed. She always tries to stay positive, and just like everyone else she too has low days, which turn into low weeks, but she distracts her mind. She’ll reach out to friends and removes herself from her immediate reality which has helped her come back stronger from anything negative, or any downfall that has come her way.
The future is bright for Jackie! She’s not only excited about her tomorrow but for the future of the next generation of CF as well. She encourages people to always push themselves and take care of themselves because, she understands its difficult but says “you can and will be successful. You can, and will do it, if you put your mind to it”. It gets hard at times, but to gain independence, you must gain responsibility.