My dream of becoming a world famous opera singer was born the day I won my first singing competition at the age of 9, standing on stage, with applause pouring over me – I was on top of the world and realized in that moment that I was born to sing.
My love of the opera started as a little girl, watching the classics with my Dad. Not only did I love watching the opera but I could imagine myself on stage, in the opera, my voice reaching the farthest reaches of the theatre, breathing in deep and hitting all the right notes.
But the reality of my struggle with cystic fibrosis slowly chipped away at my resolve to sing and by the age of 11 I was too encumbered by the daily demands of this disease to keep on fighting for my dream. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of two-months and like most people living with this, at times, crippling disease, hospital admissions for lung infections and low-oxygen levels were a common occurrence all throughout my childhood.
I have experienced many health crises related to cystic fibrosis leaving me with no other option but to consider a double-lung transplant. In 2011 my lung function reached an all-time low sitting at 26 percent and my family and I were faced with the difficult reality of having to make a decision. At this point I was so exhausted I couldn’t even perform basic tasks. Singing had become impossible.
My parents desperately searched for alternate ways to improve my health and decided to take me away to Victoria, British Columbia for a three month stay by the ocean. We were searching for any way to help improve my lung function trying to buy some time while we weighed the benefits and risks of undergoing transplant surgery. We were so frightened by long recovery times and complications including organ rejection.
Within days of arriving in Victoria I could see the positive effects of the ocean and salty air on my breathing. I started walking long distances everyday along the beach, my energy levels started improving and the possibility of singing started coming back to me.
By the time I returned home to Calgary my lung function had increased from 26 percent to 36 percent – a staggering 10 percent in those three months. My doctor was astounded at the change in my health and encouraged me to continue on this path. My trips with my family to Victoria continued and became more frequent.
With my improved health I was finally able to begin singing again. I started taking lessons and I am so grateful to my talented and supportive teachers who are helping me to strive for what I want. Singing is part of who I am and that’s something I’ll never stop fighting for.