‘Breathe In’ Podcast: A Late-Night Talk Show for the CF Community

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by Brad Dell |

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“There was a girl I was very interested in,” says Gunnar Esiason. “We were hanging out and, it’s a long story, but my feeding tube exploded on her.”

“I was dating this guy, and he saw my port-a-cath and goes, ‘Oh my God, are you ok? I think you have cancer…’” says Lea Faraone. “He thought it was a tumor.”

Banter like this is common in “Breathe In: A Cystic Fibrosis Podcast.” The podcast is envisioned as a late-night talk show for the CF community hosted by Esiason and the Salty Cysters: Faraone and Tiffany Rich. The three chat about their 26 to 28 years of living with CF then publish the recordings each Friday as video-podcasts. Topics have included college, CF procedures, and dating since the Oct. 6 podcast debut.

“It gives a very real, funny, and positive vibe for listeners so that [the CF community] can learn from us and our experiences, laugh with us, and grow with us,” Faraone says. “We want to give them hope that they can overcome anything that CF puts in front of them.”

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Beginnings: Friendships and Podcasts

Faraone and Rich befriended each other in 2015 and created Salty Cysters in 2016 to promote positivity in the CF community through social media. Rich struggled during her recovery from a double-lung transplant so Faraone created a video containing positive messages from other CFers to encourage her. Faraone asked Esiason to be a part of the video.

Esiason said the title of the podcast was inspired by his friends joking about always hearing heavy breathing during the show.

As Esiason says, “From there, I met Tiffany… and the rest is history.”

The Salty Cysters were guests on Esiason’s previous video-podcast series, “Making it Matter.” That podcast ended after its 50th episode when co-host Julia Rae left to pursue a singing and acting career. Esiason began looking to start a new show — and the Salty Cysters were natural fits to co-host.

“Lea and Tiffany have such great outlooks on life. Their personalities are infectious (CF pun) and all three of us are at very different points in the disease,” Esiason says.

The Future of ‘Breathe In’

Potential topics for future podcasts include friendships in and out of the CF community, transplants, CF care ethics, drug development, balancing chronic illness with work, and keeping motivated to exercise.

“We want to touch on anything and everything that CF has thrown our way,” Rich says. “Whether that’s emotional, funny, physically demanding — we want to touch on it.”

“I see this as the late night talk show of the CF world,” Esiason says. “Ideally, I’d love for this to eventually talk about things outside CF and include all areas of chronic illness and rare disease.”

Esiason says he doesn’t want the podcast to be a one-way show. He encourages listeners to express disagreement with opinions and suggest topics for future episodes.

“It is fun and real. We don’t beat around the bush about our struggles and how CF has truly affected each of our lives,” Rich says. “Between the three of us, we have gone through most of what CF throws at patients. So sharing our experiences helps education and awareness of the disease and its symptoms.”

Visit iTunes or Esiason’s website to listen to the podcast and/or subscribe. Email [email protected] to suggest episode topics.

MORE: How to stay healthy at college when you have cystic fibrosis


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