I face death every day of my life. But coming out and finding love was the greatest challenge of all.

“How Old Are You?”

It's a simple question, but it always broke my heart.

In my late teens, I would answer that question and hide the turmoil, heartache, and anxiety that I endured just before I answered. In a single moment, I would think of all of my friends who weren’t able to be asked that question anymore; Makenzie, Kevin, Jacob, Nicole... taken by a disease that I lived with too. It brought a reality to my life that no one else my age could really understand. The mistakes that we all make as teenagers in high school aren’t forgiven by time in my case; Cystic Fibrosis wasn’t going to be forgiving. It’s a genetic condition of the respiratory and digestive systems. It progresses over time, which is another reason why that question was difficult for me to hear.


As I got older, those uneasy feelings were replaced with denial. I spent much of my early adult life thinking about living… while confined within a hospital room.

Sometimes during long hospitalizations I’d rearrange my patient-room, just to feel a sense of separation from the hell that I was experiencing. I would turn my bed toward the window and imagine that my lungs looked like the beautiful trees outside instead of the decaying airways that they were becoming. The truth is though, no matter how much time I spent staring out those windows dreaming, the nightmare was always waiting for me.

But it turned out that confronting death wasn’t the nightmare after all. It was staring into the emptiness of my room after I fell in love, and without warning, she left me alone – after I was given a year to live. I discovered that death itself wasn’t scary... dying with a broken heart was. I stopped rearranging my room. I didn’t care to look out the windows anymore.

“How old are you?”

I was heartbroken. What was the point of age if I couldn’t grow old with someone?

I lost thirty pounds, which caused my health to decline even faster. I needed a double-lung transplant to survive. I had to find purpose. I needed to pull myself back together. It wasn’t easy, but I fought to prove myself as a good candidate for transplant. After being listed on the organ transplant list by UCLA, I had four “dry-runs” where we got ready for surgery, but the donor matches didn’t work out. Then, on March 3, 2015 at 2:30am, I was wheeled into the operating room for my transplant. I remember looking down at my body one last time just before the surgery… my chest would never look the same, but I would be alive because of this selfless gift of life.

“How old are you?”

“I’m just happy to be breathing,” I would typically respond.

This new found love for life came with a new appreciation for love itself.

I remember hiking Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles, something I had always wanted to do, but never could because of my restricted breathing prior to transplant. I was with my childhood friend, Alicia, who came to visit me. As we made our way up the side of the mountain, I reflected on the many experiences that I had just gone through. Every step up, I felt something within myself grow louder and stronger. I had a new scar across my entire chest to add to my collection of imperfections. I had a future that was both certain and uncertain.

Certain, because I was envisioning a life beyond a few months for the first time in years. Uncertain, because I couldn’t believe the things I was envisioning, because I’d never been able to do that before.

I was seeing myself with someone… I was ready to feel love again… that was the feeling. It felt different than it had before though. It was more powerful, and more authentic. I was allowing myself to be free from the social constructs I had lived within for most of my life. With everything I was going to need from someone - their unconditional love in moments where I look awful in a hospital bed, and their understanding that I may not be with them for long because of my condition, I let go of those constructs and found my true self… in love with a man. A wonderful, loving, caring, empathetic man.

“How old are you?”

He would likely interrupt and say, “there’s many more birthdays to come, so we can’t keep track.”

That would make me laugh, which he tends to do so well.

I’ve now had two double-lung transplants. I have continued to learn more about life, and the incredible things that we are capable of when we are determined.

My husband has been by my side every step of the way… and as we face this tough road toward my chronic-rejection, we hold on to each other and on to hope that a third transplant will become a viable option. Without it, I will pass away. But as I said above, death isn’t the nightmare. The nightmare was to die with a broken heart, and I can tell you that my heart has never been so complete. This isn’t a nightmare; it’s the windows that I stared out of, imagining a different life, except this is my life and it’s so much better than I could have ever imagined.

Coming out on MyLastDays was just the beginning of living my truth. This show has allowed me to bare scars that I’ve kept hidden for so long. Because of this experience, I am free. I’m grateful to the team at Wayfarer for championing me as I share my story and I thank YOU for taking this journey with me.

My episode aired for the first time this week on the CW. I encourage everyone to tune in to other stories that are shared this season, as well as the previous seasons.

“How old are you?”

I’m twenty-eight. I’m a damn fighter, and I proudly came out for the first time ever last tonight!

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less