Celebrating Each Birthday Is a Gift With CF

Columnist Lara Govendo honors her life with new lungs

Lara Govendo avatar

by Lara Govendo |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner for Lara Govendo's column

Birthdays aren’t just another day for me — they’re a reminder that I’m still alive. Last month, I turned 36.

I’ve lived my entire life thinking I would die young. Growing older with cystic fibrosis (CF), living with minimal inhibition, and dreaming about the future all feel like miraculous gifts.

After my double-lung transplant in 2017, I started a tradition of going away by myself for a few days to celebrate my birthday. I visit my favorite lake, where I feel peaceful and joyful. I use the time to reflect on the year, thank God for my life, and honor my donor by living fully.

Celebrating this way is a gift with my new lungs. I can breathe in the cold Vermont air and not be thrown into a body-wracking coughing fit. I can make plans to go away and actually get to go, rather than cancel reservations at the last minute due to an urgent hospitalization. I can be fully present and enjoy a getaway without worrying that I might get sick. Life is dramatically different now.

On my recent birthday, I woke up with an overwhelming sense of peace. I spent the morning in prayer, thanking God for the life that I’ve been granted — twice. Reflecting on how hard my life used to be and how seemingly easy it is now brought me to tears. The years since my transplant are the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Recommended Reading

As a CFer, Birthdays Remind Me that Life Is Fragile

The beauty of planning for the future

I wrote down a list of goals I want to accomplish this year. For the first time, I didn’t have a pit of anxiety in my belly. Prior to my transplant, I approached goals with trepidation because my health always took precedence. I’d often set a goal, start working toward it, and then CF would rear its ugly head. I’d have to drop everything and check into the hospital to fight another severe respiratory infection. That pattern — start, stop, rinse, repeat — continued until I received new lungs.

Health stuff still comes up of course, requiring immediate attention. The difference now is that the frequency, intensity, and duration of these events have greatly decreased.

It feels good to finally be excited about my goals. I actually believe that my health will be stable enough for me to conquer everything I want to do. So I’m taking a risk and dreaming bigger than I ever have. That sense of confidence is a big win!

Celebrating each birthday brings a level of joy I’ve never known before. I’m thrilled to grow older with CF and continue defying the odds. I can finally take my eyes off the past and focus on what’s ahead. With everything I get to do post-transplant, it feels like I’m living in reverse. I’m in awe of this life I’ve been given.

I believe everyone should celebrate their birthday, as we never know when our last one will be. Not to be morbid, but it’s true. Nobody is promised tomorrow, even those who don’t have health problems. So why not celebrate while we have the chance?

That’s how I’m choosing to live life with my new lungs — celebrating big every chance I get!

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

A Conversation With Rare Disease Advocates

Your CF Community

Visit the Cystic Fibrosis News Today forums to connect with others in the CF community.