I’m Delta F508. I’m R117H. I’m a cystic fibrosis patient. I’m post double-lung transplant by 5 years and 10 months.
I am all that and so much more. I am Jerry Cahill: athlete, coach, and friend. I have an unrivaled joie de vivre. I am positive, relentless, kind and generous. I am a man, who just happens to have cystic fibrosis. I don’t accept mediocrity. I never give up and always believe You Cannot Fail.
I was born one of six kids and, although I had CF, my parents treated me just like the others. After I was diagnosed, my mother wanted to shelter me, but my dad said, “If his life is going to be shorter, I want him to spend it with his brothers, having fun and being normal.” My dad believed that “you cannot fail as long as you try,” and I made it my life’s mantra.
I attended college and went to nationals in pole vaulting. It isn’t that I didn’t have issues because of CF, it’s just that I chose not to let them get in the way and be roadblocks. They were just detours on the way to my dreams. I went on to have a successful career while juggling the demands of CF. I never have and never will let the disease define me. The more it progressed, the more I pushed back.
Finally, nearly six years ago, at age 56, I needed a lung transplant and received one thanks to the unconditional love and generosity of a grieving family. I am grateful to my donor every day.
I’m still pushing. I’m still striving. three months after receiving my new lungs, I ran in the Boomer Esiason Foundation’s RUN 2 BREATHE and I haven’t slowed down. Five years ago, I established a program called BIKE 2 BREATHE. Four years ago, I biked across the U.S. Last year, I biked through Europe. This year, in celebration of the fifth anniversary of BIKE 2 BREATHE, I’ll be riding 500 miles through the heartland of America.
Is life easy? No. But every obstacle I encounter is just a bump in the road, because I continue to believe in my mantra “You Cannot Fail.”