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!

Courtesy of Verizon
True

If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

Keep Reading Show less