I was brought into this beautiful world in the year 1991. It was not long before I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and then soon after that, biliary atresia, both of which continue to shape and mold me into who I am today at the age of 22. I never take lightly the severity of these diseases, but I also believe that I have been blessed. Early on, my parents encouraged both me and my sisters to live life to its fullest and to become all we could be through God’s strength and grace in our lives. In middle school I started running. I came to enjoy it and realized I could keep up with others for the most part. I went on to run high school varsity cross country and track. Following my senior year, I won the Exercise for Life scholarship awarded through the Boomer Esiason Foundation. I continued to run in college as part of the Cornerstone University team for two years.
Before returning to school for my junior year of college, in August of 2012, I was diagnosed with liver cancer and began the process of being listed for a transplant. Right from the start, my sister Melissa was passionate about being my donor. There was never a moment of reservation. Early on February 18th, 2013, my sister Melissa and I waved goodbye to each other as we were wheeled into separate operating rooms. Several hours later, my diseased liver was gone and 65% of Melissa’s healthy liver had been transplanted into me.
Melissa is such a wonderful representation of demonstrating love through great sacrifice, and I will never be able to truly express my deep gratitude. Melissa is why I get to live to be an aunt, a wife, a mother, etc. . . all of the things a girl would wish for. Melissa’s strong and healthy liver is why I can run today and why I will be running on November 3rd. I will admit that I have never had the desire to run a marathon, but when Melissa asked me to run with her, I couldn’t refuse! I have a new hope and a greater joy and passion as I remember where I have come from and how God continues to use me as a demonstration of his miraculous power and grace. Melissa will be running side by side with me, just as she did throughout the whole transplant process. Together we hope to raise $5000 for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. Thanks for reading our page. Please make a donation if you can!
According to Merriam-Webster, a miracle is defined as an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs, or an extremely outstanding or unusual event. About 6.5 months ago, I got a front row seat to my own personal miracle. On February 18th, 2013, a surgeon split my liver, and took 65% of it and transplanted it into my sister Jamie (who has Cystic Fibrosis). The 35% of my liver remaining in my body has grown back to 100%, and the 65% in Jamie's body has grown to 100% for her body. Six months post-transplant, Jamie is now ready to commit to running the NYC Marathon with me; twenty-six point two miles, nine months post-transplant. I don't say that to put Jamie on a pedestal. The miracle that is her life I totally, completely attribute to God's awesomeness in her life.
Post-transplant, I have often thought about my concept of a miracle. The fact that Jamie is thriving and running now is miraculous. But what about before the transplant? So often we dub something as miraculous in a particular person's life. I believe that we do this because we see the 'handicap' or deficit in that person's life (a cancerous liver in this case), witness it overcome, and the extravagance of the event evokes praise and awe of the 'miracle' or the change. But then I thought about the 'miracle of the liver' even before the transplant. Is it less of a miracle that we each have a liver in our body that can be split, separated from its other half, and function as if whole in another's body? Is the liver only a miracle if it is split, or is it a miracle regardless? And what about the body as it pertains to running? While I consider it absolutely miraculous that Jamie can run 26.2 miles nine months post-transplant, is it any less miraculous that I have two legs connected to my torso that are capable of running and that I have lungs with the capacity to handle the demands of running a marathon? I have come to believe that each and every person is every day a walking miracle.
So this year, I run because of the miracle that will run next to me in Jamie. But I also will run because of the miracle that is my own life. And the miracle that is the life of every child, and adult living with cystic fibrosis. I believe God made each and every one of us a miracle, and calls us to live life to the fullest and with purpose; to go after our dreams and to showcase the [miraculous] life He has blessed us with.