The Cure List: Dreams Achieved and Dreams to Come

The Cure List: Dreams Achieved and Dreams to Come
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I’m always promising people I’ll write a memoir … at some point. Once, I got 46,853 words deep before realizing that my writing style had evolved enough that, “Mmm, that draft is trash.”

Recently, I gave it another jab. I leave my writing raw, still bleeding and unfiltered to depict past messy emotions or situations. To retain that unrefined quality, I often rip off old journal entries and convert whatever emotions I bled then — in the thick of suffering — into the writing of today.

Last weekend, I excavated a journal that had slipped behind my overburdened bookshelf. In those dusty pages was my “Cure List.” I wrote it in 2013 following a bronchoscopy from hell that broke open what doctors described as a “fungal nest.” It unleashed a brutal infection that nearly offed me.

Thankful I had the foresight not to write any sappy romance stuff. (Photo by Brad Dell)

Barely able to stand, I dreamed of a day when I’d be cured. The fantasized cure never came to fruition, but I did upgrade to a “new” pair of lungs, courtesy of my beloved yet mysterious donor. Transplant isn’t a cure, but I’m living a future that 2013 Brad dreamed of. I’ve accomplished most of the things on the Cure List.

“Prophetic,” I whispered dramatically, journal cradled against my ribs like a sacred text. The list had been long forgotten, though shortly after my transplant I created a “De-bucket List.” No longer plagued by peril, I chose to live adventurously, and many Cure List items naturally got rolled into that lifestyle.

A checklist:

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of my transplant, I threw a big party (#1).

In Belgrade, Serbia, for the 2018 European Cystic Fibrosis Conference. (Courtesy of Brad Dell)

My first international, post-transplant trip was to Serbia, in Europe, though I haven’t studied abroad (#3). I travel obsessively now; in two weeks, I leave for a two-month trip to Malaysia and Thailand (#7).

I took up badminton and rock climbing for fun (#4); I like the latter because it’s dangerous, and a CFer is not meant to live a life of safety! I’ve pulled all-nighters too many times to count (#8) — sorry, Mom. To make her happy, I try to eat healthy foods (#12). Try.

I chose an executive track rather than continuing to work as a journalist (#2). I got a big boy job at BioNews Services, and I do take sick leave (#9), but generous colleagues remind me to do so shamelessly. There, I help rare disease communities by providing advocacy and job opportunities (#10).

Friends often remark about my sunny-side, grateful attitude (#14).

So, hmm, 10 of 14 goals accomplished.

Having children (#5) has long been deeply desired and only intensified by finding out I’m sterile. Yet, I also fear leaving the hypothetical “them” and this earth too early. Then again, I now mentor 11 teenagers and have come to see them as some type of child-sibling hybrid. They call me “Brad the Dad,” and that’s touching if not odd, so maybe it’s chill not to have children of my own.

In Jordan, with some of “my kids.” (Photo by Eileen Hopkins)

My medical costs haven’t yet become donations (#6), and in February, I funneled $2,562 toward my health budget. However, my wonderful workplace gives me the salary I need to live comfortably while also donating a portion.

Maybe one day my autobiography (#11) will come into being. But if that’s the case, then I certainly won’t forget my doctors (#13), since they’ll be characters. I love my doctors, but forgetting them means forgetting my past — a concept once relished. However, in my slowly growing maturity, I’ve realized that remembering past pains is key to gratitude in The Now. So, scratch #13.

#15: Celebrate the cure with you

Write your own Cure List. The cure for your child, your grandchild, your sibling, your parent … you … is still to come. It will. While it’s too late for me, I will be celebrating right there with you.

At a CF research laboratory with fellow CF News Today columnist and lung transplantee Lara Govendo. (Courtesy of Brad Dell)

I’ll cry happy tears knowing that you, too, will have the chance to travel and reach for ambitious career goals, and maybe eat healthy foods and play sports you hadn’t since you were little. We will have a big, jolly party and our doctors (whose names we will remember) are all invited. CFers will hug without fear of cross-infection, and we will wipe tears from each other’s eyes and talk about how being elderly sucks and how much our poor, old backs hurt. We will complain about insurance costs but then laugh together upon realizing money problems are nothing compared to death problems. Our community will have more children, and they will be raised by fiercely powerful mothers and fathers, and so they, too, will be strong.

Wow. I like that future even more than the one I’ve been living for the past three years with my new lungs. I can’t wait, brothers and sisters. One day, you’ll hold that list and whisper, “Prophetic.”

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

Brad Dell is a Deaf 27-year-old with cystic fibrosis. Originally from Hawaii, he received a double-lung transplant from UC San Francisco in January 2017, then cochlear implants nine months later. He now lives in Santa Cruz. When not traveling the world, chugging coffee, mentoring high schoolers at church, or reading comics, he’s working as the senior director of columns at BioNews Services. (OK, he’s still drinking coffee while he works.)
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Brad Dell is a Deaf 27-year-old with cystic fibrosis. Originally from Hawaii, he received a double-lung transplant from UC San Francisco in January 2017, then cochlear implants nine months later. He now lives in Santa Cruz. When not traveling the world, chugging coffee, mentoring high schoolers at church, or reading comics, he’s working as the senior director of columns at BioNews Services. (OK, he’s still drinking coffee while he works.)

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