"I try to reassure everyone who has been affected by this disease that CF isn't the end of the world if you don't want it to be."
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.

Tiffany Christensen

Tiffany's Story

At six months of age, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. At 12, I had my first in-hospital stay and began physically and emotionally grappling with the difficulty of this disease. In 1996, at age 21, I was too sick to keep up with my college classmates. I had to give up my acting dreams and drop out of school, and at this time I was listed for a double-lung transplant. In 2000, my life was spared by the gift of a double-lung transplant. For two years, I did well physically but struggled to find a healthy relationship and meaning in my life. In 2002, I received the devastating news that my lungs were being rejected, and I became very sick very quickly.

Tiffany's Second Transplant, and the "Permanent Me"

With no second transplant in sight, I found my inner world opening as my outer body weakened. I discovered a connection to the universe I had never known, and my self image began to shift. Instead of defining myself by my actions, I was able to go deeper and find my true essence. This is the “Permanent Me.” This new understanding of myself and others allowed me to embrace the idea that I was valuable; in a hospital gown or in an evening gown! The person inside the wrapper remained the same. I was able to get a second transplant in March 2004. When I woke up in ICU, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to those touched by illness.

Tiffany's Mission

Today, I am in my mid-30s and am enjoying the best time of my life. In 2007, my first book, “Sick Girl Speaks!” (http://www.sickgirlspeaks.com) was published and became popular with patients, families and healthcare professionals. I also enjoy the role of Illness and Transition Coach, helping other patients navigate the healthcare maze. Since 2005, I have participated in many exciting speaking events. While my career gives me great satisfaction, my greatest joy has come from meeting the man of my dreams, adopting one crazy Whippet and enjoying life with my wonderful friends and family. I know that life is precious and precarious. It is my hope to live each day with integrity and purpose; leaving no room for regrets.

Favorite Food: French Fries
Favorite Color: Blue
Nickname: Nina
Awards: Heroes of Hope
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
Dream Vacation: Denmark
Favorite Music: Alternative
You can find Tiffany on ... Facebook, Twitter, Cystic L, Second Wind, www.sickgirlspeaks.com