Lea slid into my DMs about two and a half years ago asking if I’d be willing to help her with a video she was making for Tiffany Rich’s transplant recovery. Lea’s best friend was in a dire situation and all she wanted to do was help. Little did I know that would be the start of an amazing friendship.
That was the kind of person she was. She dedicated her life to service so that others may live.
My heart is broken today after learning of Lea’s passing. She was a good person, in fact one of the best.
Lea was one of my best friends. Her (sometimes too) brutal honesty kept me level headed, and made sure my ego stayed in check. The stubbornness that all of us with CF have – a survival skill, if there ever was one – was one of Lea’s finest qualities. She wanted nothing more than the best for Tiffany, me, and every single person with CF, and was prepared to do everything in her power to make it happen. She brought the same grit and determination to every facet of life with the most absolutely inspiring passion and desire to succeed. I will forever cherish our weekly Breathe In Podcast Skype calls. Our preplanned half hour calls often turned into hours upon hours of talking about nothing in particular, rather just three friends separated and connected by something so few people will ever understand.
Her loyalty, wit and sassiness are what I am going to miss most, though. She never failed to put a smile on my face. On the show, she once proudly proclaimed that she was “a good catch,” and we all laughed at the time, but the more I think about, the more I realize how self-aware she was. Beneath the tough, chiseled façade, which all of us with CF show, was a truly humble young woman who desired a beautiful life.
Lea achieved that and so much more.
So few people can say they’ve actually changed the world, but Lea certainly did. She inspired so many thousands of people with her transparency in her fight with cystic fibrosis, and worked to erase some of the fear that came with a CF diagnosis to unsuspecting families.
Lea succeeded in creating a massive platform for people with cystic fibrosis to connect over a single common trait. She inspired me to push through some of my darkest days, and wouldn’t allow me to fall behind in my care.
I have, for a while now, asked myself, “What would Lea do?” whenever I reach a dead end. The answer is always the same, “go for it!”
Lea was constantly in motion. She did not believe in limitations and if there is a single thing that all of us can learn from her beautiful life, it’s that. Cystic fibrosis should not be seen as a limitation or deterrence from living to the absolute fullest.
I find myself fighting back tears as I aim to wrap this up, so I want to finish with this…
Lea was a good person. She was an amazing person, and she deserved so much more with a much longer life, but I know she would want the very best for all of us. She had so much joy in knowing about all of the amazing things that stand in front of our community. Lea was one of a kind, and the type person we should all strive to emulate. She loved her family, her friends and her life. Her wonderful smile will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Lea, I know I will see you again, but until then, may the air come easy and let the sun shine brightly on your spirit, your soul and your legacy. We all love you so very much.