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Sabrina Walker - a Mother, Avid Runner and Cancer Survivor - Was Diagnosed with CF at Age Four

Sabrina Waler was diagnosed with CF when she was four years old. She is now forty, and a mother, an avid runner, and a cancer survivor. Sabrina lives in Alaska with her family.

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE GROWING UP WITH CF?

I was diagnosed with CF when I was four years old. At the time, my doctors estimated that I probably wouldn’t live past the age of eight. But medical care for CF improved quickly, and, as you can see, I surpassed the age of eight and lived a pretty normal life. Other than taking enzymes and doing treatments I didn’t feel any different from other children. My dad was the physical education teacher at my school, and he never treated me differently than the other children. I was never given an excuse not to try something new.

YOU ARE AN AVID RUNNER. WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN RUNNING, AND WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING TODAY?

My mom loved to run, and when I was in sixth grade, she suggested I try running in hopes it would strengthen my lungs. We started slowly – she’d say, let’s try to jog three laps without stopping, or let’s try to jog for ten minutes without stopping. When I got to high school, my parents urged me to try a sport, and I chose cross country and track and field. But after I graduated from high school, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The chemotherapy put running on the backburner. Once I was healthy again, however, I decided I needed to be more active.

In 2011 I entered the Boomer Esiason Foundation’s Run to Breathe, and was determined to run the whole 10K without stopping. My husband proposed to me after that race.

"I want to do everything I can to be here as long as possible for my son and my family."
—Sabrina Walker

YOU ARE THE MOTHER OF A LITTLE BOY. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF HAVING CF AND BEING A MOTHER?

In 2015, we had our son, Leo. He is healthy, and becoming a mother is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. But it’s really hard taking care of a little one and doing treatments. You have to manage your time really well, and it can be hard when you have a child who doesn’t understand the importance of your treatments.

But my biggest challenge is knowing the life expectancy for people with CF. I want to do everything that I can to be here as long as possible for my son and for my family. Sometimes I think, what if I get an infection and I just can’t rebound? I do my best to cope by thinking about what I can do each day to maintain my health.

WHO IN YOUR LIFE IS “ALL IN” FOR YOU?

My parents have been all in for me since the beginning of my life, and they are always doing what they can to help me. My husband is my number one rock, and he is all in for me as well. He has never told me I can’t do something. When I told him I wanted to run a marathon, he said, “Yes! Go do it.” And Leo may not know it yet, but he’s all in for Mommy, too. 

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