This Lung Life - a Column by Ella Balasa

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Ella is a writer, patient advocate, and scientist with cystic fibrosis. She was diagnosed with CF at 18 months old and is now in her late 20s. She holds a degree in biology from Virginia Commonwealth University and works part time as an environmental microbiology lab manager. Over the last few years, she’s become deeply involved in the CF community via advisory and research committees while also serving as a director for the U.S. Adult CF Association. She’s from Richmond, Virginia, but is of Hungarian descent. She loves the ocean, traveling, spending time outdoors, practicing makeup, and eating her favorite dessert, crème brûlée. Follow her travel and life experiences on Instagram @thisgirlella.

How High Risk for COVID-19 Has Shaped My Perspective

We are currently experiencing something unlike anything we have seen before: a coronavirus pandemic whose magnitude is unprecedented in modern history. Two weekends ago, I was still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at bars with my friends. By then, people were wary. I was advised against going, but having the mindset…

Reflecting on the Passage of Time

Last week led me to reflect on how things change with time. Looking back on the obstacles I have overcome and the stepping stones navigated help me to appreciate the present. Last Wednesday I drove home from a checkup at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. My lung function was…

When Will I Be ‘Sick Enough’ for a Transplant?

On some days, the motivation to pedal a stationary bike and feel the burn and breathlessness for 20 straight minutes is buried under a layer of mucus lining most of my airways. Pulmonary rehab five days a week has tuned my body so that I can dramatically feel the weakness…

How I’ve Found Purpose Without Having a Full-time Job

Our society places great emphasis on success through careers. Whenever we meet a stranger, one of the first questions we ask is, “What do you do?” I feel this pressure despite my awareness that my illness makes it difficult even to predict what the next few months might bring. The…

Sharing Life with CF on Social Media

“Ella, you were at a bar?! I thought you were going to the hospital?” I received this perplexed (and perhaps skeptical) text after I posted a picture to social media of me at a local brewery for a cystic fibrosis-related fundraising event. I was smiling with a group…


Featured Column

The Benefits of Being Sick

A banner for Lara's column, depicting a car on a road trip winding through a forest.
As columnist Lara Govendo reflects on her journey through CF and transplant, she realizes there are a surprising number of benefits.

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