- where/how did you guys meet?
We first met when I was in 10th grade and Sabrina was in 8th grade and we were trick-or-treating in the same neighborhood (I know, everything about that statement sounds ridiculous). Several months later, I was with my younger brother waiting in line at a movie theater when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Sabrina flanked by two of her friends and she asked “Are you obsessed with me?” (I later found out she was dared by one of her friends to do that). Needless to say, our relationship had terribly awkward beginnings.
- what is your favorite activity to do together?
Running, hiking, going to the beach, traveling, watching our favorite TV shows and sports events, and going to movies. Most of our time these days is devoted to our almost 3-year-old son, Leo. We love taking him to parks, the beach, zoo and just exploring San Francisco with him.
- What is one of your SO’s funny habits?
I love to hear Sabrina’s contagious, deep, belly laugh. I often hear it at the expense of my own personal, physical pain (she thinks it is hilarious when I get hurt). But I’d say most of the time it’s totally worth it because we usually both end up laughing pretty hard.
- what do you like best about him/her
I love Sabrina’s immense strength and courage that is bundled up in her tiny, petite body. She is absolutely the strongest person I know (mentally and pound-for-pound physically too). She has been through so much in her lifetime of dealing with the ups and downs of Cystic Fibrosis, on top of her battle with Non-hodgkins Lymphoma, yet still has such a zest for life and happiness. I also have really enjoyed watching her grow from this cute girl I met in high school to a beautiful, loving wife and mother. I’m so incredibly proud of the woman she has become.
- Did you know about CF before meeting your SO? If so, what?
No – when we first started dating in high school I heard a rumor going around that Sabrina had some type of disease and was dying. I called her that night and asked her about it. She reassured me she wasn’t dying and we had a long talk about Cystic Fibrosis which was the very first time I had ever heard of CF.
- Did you know before you were dating that your SO had CF? How did you find out (When did your SO tell you about their CF)? What were your initial thoughts?
I think it took some time for me to really process what it all meant. Finding out that someone I really liked had a terminal illness made me think in a way that not a lot of teenagers typically have to at such a young age. I can’t say I remember exactly how I felt but I remember thinking how unfair it was that sweet Sabrina, of all people, was dealing with this. However, she was so strong and reassuring when she explained it to me so it almost gave me a sense of relief that she didn’t seem too worried about it at the time.
- What did you do to learn about the disease? Did you SO play an active role in that (did he/she tell you to avoid the “Internet definition”?”
7a. Do you ask your SO a lot of questions about CF? (In a way to learn more about the disease)
I don’t think I asked a lot of questions when I first found out but as time went on and I noticed certain things I would ask about them. I remember being super impressed with how easy it was for her to gulp down a handful of pills all at once after a meal when I pretty much grew up as the worst pill swallower on the planet. Other than that, Sabrina lived a seemingly normal life in high school. I remember the first time it really hit me that she had a serious illness was the first time I visited her in the hospital during one of her tune-ups. We weren’t dating at the time but we had remained close friends. It was my first time seeing a young person attached to IV’s – I remember it being difficult for me to see her like that and it was my wake-up call that CF was, in fact, a life-threatening illness.
- Do you talk about CF?
All the time – by now it is so ingrained in our lives and relationship that it has completely shaped my personal view of what is truly important in life. We are always strategizing about how we can position ourselves to ensure Sabrina can be the healthiest version of herself. It has also pushed us to reach for and achieve goals that we may not have accomplished if CF was not a part of our lives.
- How do you support your SO in their battle with CF (reminding him/her to take pills, wash neb-cups, do IV infusions, going to doctor’s appointments)?
Other than the usual stuff like reminding her to take her pills we have essentially planned our life and lifestyle around keeping Sabrina as healthy as possible. We are lucky to be in a situation where Sabrina doesn’t need to have a full-time job and can focus on her health and raising our son. We are currently living in San Francisco as I undergo specialty training to become an endodontist (root canal dental specialist) at UCSF. One of the main reasons I chose this program over others was the medical benefits that covered Sabrina and Leo. We have been taking full advantage of the world class care that is available at the CF clinic at UCSF and Sabrina has been taking advantage of the amazing weather that allows her to run and exercise outside daily to keep her lungs clear.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to do that is CF related (change IV bandage, remove IV, physically do something your SO because he/she was unable, etc.)?
Sabrina has been able to manage her CF by staying consistent with all of her treatments and also by running. She started running at a young age and we believe it has been a huge positive influence in her fight against CF. It has been so inspirational to be at the finish line for almost all of her races. So much so, I decided to run with her in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on Team Boomer. I’ve never been a runner and running a marathon is something that is way outside of my comfort zone, but the time spent training with Sabrina on top of the marathon itself is an experience I will cherish forever.
- How do you think CF has shaped/modeled your SO into the person they are today?
I think CF has definitely molded Sabrina into the strongest version of herself. She has been through so much yet has kept such a positive attitude through it all.
- Does your SO’s health change your opinion on how you look at you own health?
I definitely have zero excuses when it comes to taking care of my health. Sabrina has been an immensely positive influence in my life in so many ways. We are both pretty passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and I don’t think I would have the same motivations and desires if it weren’t for Sabrina’s influence.
- did you ever second guess the relationship because he/she had CF?
I remember thinking about it a lot in high school when we first started dating. Our high school relationship only lasted 6 months but I do remember thinking “what does our future look like?” at times. It wasn’t until years later when we reconnected over a college summer break when we decided to start dating again. Sabrina was diagnosed with Non-hodgkins Lymphoma that summer. It was a scary time because we weren’t sure what future would hold now that she was battling two major illnesses. It was at that time that I decided that my life with Sabrina in it, for however long that would be, would be way better than not having her in my life at all. We were blessed to celebrate 13 years cancer free in December.
- What has been the hardest thing to get used to (ex: working around treatment schedule, sharing a bed…especially with IVs, GI issues…, spit cups,)
When we started dating again when I was in college, Sabrina flew out to visit me and it was the first time we shared living quarters for a period of time. One night before we went to sleep she mentioned she had a tummy ache and, regretfully, I replied “Sabrina, if you have to fart just let it rip. Trust me, I’m cool with it.” Up to that point Sabrina had completely spared me of the CF-related G.I. issues and I had no idea that my life was about to change forever. I think my olfactory senses have become somewhat immune to them by now but I’ll still get blown away by one every now and then.
- Has CF impacted spending time together? (ex: cancelled plans last minute, illness related, not going “out” as much as peers)
I wouldn’t say its impacted our time with each other but we have had to cancel plans last minute if we were meeting up with people who had sick kids or if they themselves were feeling like a cold was coming on. If anything it has made us spend more time together so we can avoid other people that are sick.
- What do friends and family say to you about you being with someone who has CF (significant illness)?
My friends and family have always been 100% supportive since the very beginning. I don’t know how much of it is due to Sabrina having CF though. Pretty much any human who has ever met Sabrina has absolutely adored her just because of the person she is.
- What do you and your SO do when YOU are sick, how is that impacted because of CF?
We definitely do a lot of hand washing and hand sanitizing around the house to prevent any sickness as much as possible. When I’m sick, I keep my space and avoid contact as much as possible.
- CF and family planning, how does that impact the relationship?
It was something that we knew could be an issue but we never really talked about it until after we were married. I got tested for the CF gene shortly after we got married and found out I was not a carrier. Luckily for us, we were able to conceive our son, Leo, naturally and Sabrina had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and delivery. Now that Leo is almost 3 we are wanting to grow our family again but we have made an agreement that Sabrina’s health is always going to be the priority and we want her to be as healthy as she can be before she gets pregnant again. We also realize that getting pregnant again isn’t guaranteed and IVF or even adoption may be required.
- How have YOU coped with the progressive nature of the illness?
I knew well before marrying Sabrina that our journey together would be filled with many ups and downs. Through it all, we have worked very hard to always focus on the positive aspects of what we are dealing with and to always be appreciative of the normal, non-eventful days. I’m convinced that when you look for positivity in every single day you see and even attract more of it. Just like if you are in the market for a certain type of car you will all-of-a-sudden start noticing those cars everywhere.
- Has CF forced your relationship to be stronger?
Without a doubt. I think CF forces you to constantly consider “what’s really important in life.” It lays the blueprint for every decision you make relating to goal setting, the future and the life you want to live. The greatest test for the strength any relationship is adversity and the fact that our relationship was basically born out of adversity has, in my opinion, made our relationship even stronger.
- What are some Funnier moments that stick out to you that would only happen to someone dating a person with CF?
I didn’t find it too funny at the time – but one time we were driving and Sabrina farted in the car and I had to IMMEDIATELY pull over and jump out of the car. Sabrina was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe and I ended up throwing up in the parking lot.
- What is your favorite thing about your SO? (CF related or not)
You would think that someone going through so much with their personal health would be very focused on themselves over others. And rightfully so, Sabrina absolutely deserves to have that mentality and it would only seem natural and fair. However, this is not Sabrina. She has always been so hospitable to the needs of others and empathetic to those that are struggling. She has an amazing ability to lift others up and inspire people to be the best versions of themselves no matter what their situation is.