"CF may be a part of you, but do not let it define you."
The experience of living with cystic fibrosis is markedly different today than it was decades ago. Thanks to the discovery of the CF gene, the availability of effective drug therapies and advances in technology, the 30,000 Americans who deal with the disease day in and day out are living longer and fuller lives. In a word, they are thriving.

Cris Dopher

Cris' Story

At four years old, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. With my boyish good looks and Southern California residency, I was chosen to be the poster child for the San Diego chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My face was put on CF posters and distributed throughout the Foundation and the greater CF community. Before I entered the sixth grade, my dad moved our family to Missouri, where I first learned the importance of exercising from CF doctors at the University of Missouri - Columbia Hospital.

Unable to play sports during my first years of high school after a farming accident crushed my ankle, I found a passion in theater. Soon I was designing sets as well as acting in my high school plays. After graduating from college, I attended graduate school at NYU and received my master’s in fine arts.

Cris on Struggling With CF ... and Winning

In the years following graduate school, I began to notice a progression in the severity of my disease. Last March, when I was 36 years old, I struggled with another exacerbation. Climbing a flight of stairs left me breathless, and I began to fear the worst. It was not until after the IVs started to work and I began exercising every day that I became stronger — both mentally and physically.

Even though it still remains a challenge to take the appropriate amount of enzymes every day, and eat as my doctors instruct, I am much more compliant now and rarely miss my treatments. There also is a greater need for me to maintain my health due to CF-related diabetes. I believe that the importance of compliance is the equivalent of how much belief you have in yourself and in your future.

Cris on Giving Back

I spend my free time volunteering and fund raising for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which includes running for Team Boomer once a year. Making my own contributions to BEF allows me to give back and stay connected to the greater Cystic Fibrosis community. All in all, I keep moving forward — in my work, in my relationships and most importantly, in my healthcare.

A Fun Fact About Cris: He has run the ING New York City Marathon for Team Boomer.
Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving
Favorite Food: Sushi
Role Model: I admire my dad and the Jewish actor Zero Mostel, both for their resilience
Dream Vacation: An around-the-world motorcycle tour
Fun Fact About Cris: I rode my Harley to Alaska
You can find Cris on ... Facebook, My Team Boomer