Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I repeat this in my head daily because sometimes it’s hard to see the light when you keep getting knocked down. But if I stop swimming, I will drown. 

I have lived with cystic fibrosis for 26 years now. While I am not CF and CF does not define me, it is a part of me. It’s given me my very own perspective on life and taught me about hard work. It taught me about chasing my dreams. It taught me to never give up on yourself. You must fight every battle in front of you, head on.

In June 2016 I went in for a routine sinus surgery. Unknown to everyone, an extremely rare fungus was lurking in my blood and possibly my lungs. Within 2 days my lungs started to fail me. I asked the doctor to promise me I’d wake up again as he placed me in a medically induced coma. A month total I spent sleeping. During that month my lungs completely failed, I received a double lung transplant only 4 days after being listed, a few laparoscopic surgeries, an operation on my stomach and I lost my muscle memory/strength. I woke up, unable to move, and unable to talk.  I woke to my mom telling me that I received a double lung transplant.

I’ve been through a lot of s*** in my life because of cystic fibrosis, but this was by far the hardest battle I had ever faced. I spent months relearning how to lift my arms, sit up on my own, breathe on my own and walk again. After 4.5 months spent in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, I was discharged from the hospital. My life has forever been changed.

Since my transplant I’ve had battles with my kidneys. And that fungus that was in my lungs? Yea, it showed up in my hip joint. We think it made a home there back in 2016 when it was in my blood and only started showing symptoms last March. For the last almost 6 weeks, I’ve had a temporary hip that restricts my ability to walk. The hip is filled with an anti-fungal that works to get rid of this fungus once and for all. In about a week I will undergo a full hip replacement…another challenge I am ready to face head on. Because of all I’ve been through, I  know that I will be able to make it though any challenge.

I keep swimming through all of these challenges because I know one day I will look back with my new lungs and all of the heartaches will be worth it. Reaching that beautiful beach will be even sweeter knowing how much it took for me to get there. I will never stop swimming. Most importantly, I will never stop fighting.

Jackie is 26 years old and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. She received a double lung transplant on June 21, 2016. A native of Washington, DC she enjoys exploring the city and trying new restaurants. Some other hobbies of hers include painting, shopping and hanging out with friends.