I’m 61 from Brooklyn, New York and I’m a cyclist, a double lung transplant recipient and I also happen to have cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a genetic disease that affects the lungs, digestive system and many other organs in the body. Eventually, people like me who are lucky enough to live on borrowed time, receive new lungs. Although it saved my life, the new lungs also came with some new challenges, but ones I’m happy to tackle in return for clear lungs and deep breaths.
Even though I exercise daily, it doesn’t mean that every day is smooth sailing. In fact, most days are wrought with challenges, and yes, there are times when staying medically compliant feels like a struggle. I am human and I can promise you that exhaustion and fears have visited me, but I’ve never let CF stop me from living a very full and active life. And, through it all, I have met some of the greatest people in my life that I am proud to call friends. One of these special people is Dr. Salim Arcasoy whom I met about fifteen years ago when my journey for my lung transplant began. When we met, he was a moderately healthy guy, not quite a cyclist at that point, but this changed. In order to keep one another motivated to stay healthy, we started to cycle together and expanded our group with some other folks. Along the way, Dr. Arcasoy and I became friends and I shared my story with him and how I started volunteering for The Boomer Esiason Foundation.
A big piece of my volunteer efforts was when I created Team Boomer which is the fundraising arm that allows people to run, cycle and swim while raising money for the foundation. I told Dr. Arcasoy about this and he also started to get involved and supported me every “pedal” of the way. We regularly started riding in Central Park and a popular spot for cyclists, the Route 9 service road in Fort Lee, just over the George Washington Bridge. Eventually we tackled the Five Borough Bike Tour together after my transplant. It was a major accomplishment and something we both felt proud of being able to do together.
With every twist and turn of each ride I take away life lessons and sometimes I know I need to stop, pause and reinvent myself once again. Cycling has been so much a part of my reinvention over the last twenty years and has changed my life in many ways, for the better. When I look back, I realize that my CF diagnosis has turned out to be a blessing. It has pushed me beyond my comfort zones, not just in exercise, but also in life. It has landed me in the most and rewarding friendships, like the one I have with Dr. Arcasoy, and for that I am grateful.
“It’s all about the journey and the people you meet along the way…”