Sabrina Smith Walker, 26, of Anchorage, Alaska recently became a part of the Boomer Esiason Foundation’s Club Cystic Fibrosis, and her story follows below:
“I will never give up until the day I stop breathing.”
I have cystic fibrosis. I am a cancer survivor. And I am thankful for every day that I have been given here on this earth. My life has never been what most people would consider “normal.” I was born, raised, and still live in Anchorage, Alaska, a state most people in the United States consider foreign. Because I am one-fourth Tlingit Indian and in spite of my shaky health when I was young, my cystic fibrosis was not diagnosed until I was almost five years old. Surprisingly, my health was not adversely affected by the harsh winters in Alaska – but those winters did affect my ability to exercise regularly and stay active. I was fortunate enough to have a PE teacher for a father who was able to make sure that I was taking the correct medications and getting enough exercise while I was in grade school.
By the time I was in seventh grade, my parents did not have to encourage me to exercise. I made the decision to be a part of cross country, track & field, and cheerleading – all activities that I continued through high school. In high school, I realized that during my off-season, my health slowly declined, so I joined the track club as a way to maintain my health and my lung capacity.
When I was 18, I faced my most difficult obstacle when I was diagnosed with lymphoma and began receiving chemotherapy treatments to battle the cancer. I was dealing with both CF and cancer at the same time and my body wore down. Fortunately, I was able to beat cancer by staying complaint with ALL of my treatments and staying positive. I am happy to say that I am approaching my sixth year of remission.
While I have to constantly remain aware of my health and how my lifestyle affects it, my life is not dictated by my disease. I have become an avid runner and have found that competing in races pushes me to remain active and gives me a sense of accomplishment. My exercise routine varies along with the length of my upcoming race, but I try to run at least 40 miles a week. I take a cross fit class two to three times a week, go swimming and rock climbing indoors, and plan to try cross-country skiing with my husband this winter.
I am fortunate to have had a wonderful support system throughout my life and I plan to always make them proud, stay healthy, and live the best life I can.
Soon after sharing her moving story and becoming a part of Club CF, Sabrina competed in the greuling 15.8 mile Lost Lake Run, which raises money for cystic fibrosis. To read her original story in the Alaska Dispatch, please click the following link: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/lost-lake-alaskan-cystic-fibrosis-will-run-cure-weekend