I was born in 1996 with Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic illness that is the number one genetic killer of children today. When I was diagnosed at 3 years old, my mother was told my life expectancy was 6-8 years due to the CF and other serious medical problems. Most people with CF live at least to age 18. This meant I shouldn’t plan on going to college, playing sports, I shouldn’t expect to have a husband and kids, and I certainly shouldn’t count on living a “normal” life.
My life was turned upside down in January 2006. I got an infection in my lungs that spread to my blood stream; it was serious enough to send me straight to the Intensive Care Unit for a week, and hold me in the hospital for an additional 38 days. My doctors and nurses were concerned with my drastic decline. My lung function was lower than ever before. My doctors became visibly concerned after I had been in the hospital for nearly thirty days, and had not yet reached my typical lung function. I began to believe that I was going to die. As a 9-year-old CF’er, a year past my expiration date, I needed to prepare myself for my death.
- Allie Walker on her Alaska trip
But, in July of 2006 I received a “wish” from Catch-A-Dream which is a non-profit organization that gives sick children an opportunity of a lifetime to go fishing or hunting. During my “wish” trip I knew I had a choice to make: continue on my current path, which was continually thinking about death and watching my lung function plummet, and even die; or make a drastic change to take charge of my own life.
Spending a week in Alaska can have many affects on a person. For me, it meant a total reevaluation of my life. I knew that I was going to have to make a change, and I knew that it would have to happen immediately. I needed to start thinking about living and living my life to the fullest. My trip to Alaska showed me that other people cared about me and my life. I focused on life for the week I was in Alaska and actually forgot that I was sick. I felt like I was seeing a preview of what Heaven was going to be like. I knew that I would one day be in Heaven, but I also knew that God was telling me that he wasn’t ready for me yet. I still have a lot of living to do. I am reminded all of the time how important my life is from the kind people like Marty and Tatum from Catch-A-Dream. Every time I get a card, email, or see them I am convinced even more that I am meant to live life to the fullest.
I began living life at full capacity. I play sports, play the guitar and devote much of my time to be a blessing to others. I was even the 2008 Home Coming Queen. So, I figure the more life I can squeeze into the time I have, the better I will be and maybe I can even make a difference in someone else’s life. This means pouring my time into activities that I find most rewarding. I volunteer with various non-profit organizations and try to be a help to those in need. I also work hard to raise money for Catch-A-Dream. I have already raised two thousand dollars by collecting cans and doing car washes.
The most incredible part of my transformation, however, was the unexpected love that stemmed from my wish. I believe that I probably would not have played softball, cheered, or got involved in volunteering if I would not have gotten a “wish” from Catch-A-Dream. Catch-A-Dream changed my life and my trip to Alaska will always remind me to keep on keeping on.
–By Allie Walker, Catch-A-Dream Junior Partner