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Welcome to Colleen's Page

Colleen Clary

Colleen Clary

Colleen is a lover, a fighter, a healer, a feminist, and oh yeah, a SURVIVOR!

Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth, under a libra sun and aquarius moon, I came out with a tenacious will to live. At only one day old, my little 5.8lb body was put to the test as I was rushed to Johns Hopkins from GMBC for intensive surgery because of a common CF complication, meconium ileus. Riding in an ambulance through the streets of Baltimore in the middle of the excitement and energy of the Orioles celebrating their WORLD SERIES win, my lifelong battle to survive began.

Aware from a young age about the devastation of this disease and having had friends with CF who never made it to adulthood, I was determined to beat the odds and do whatever I could to help others from a similar fate.

I learned everything I could about CF, including what the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was doing. Inspired to be a part of the efforts to find a cure, I joined her first medical trial at age 8, and branched out from my parents’ Great Strides walk team to form my very own “Colleen’s Team” at age 12.

I became an Ambassador for CF, spreading awareness about my experience with the disease through public speaking, online fundraising, and my yearly letter writing campaign for Great Strides.

As cystic fibrosis progressed, I was challenged daily to keep going. By my 30th birthday, I was on oxygen full-time, struggling to breathe, with only enough energy to do round the clock treatments. During this time, I spent more time as an inpatient at Hopkins that I did in my own home. Ever the fighter, I was able to get strong enough to be listed for transplant, and a month after my 31st birthday I received the call.

We hurried to the hospital, hoping and praying this terrifying surgery, a DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT would be successful.

I woke from surgery the next day, Thanksgiving Day, with SO MUCH to be grateful for. Though I was breathing through a ventilator, I started breathing over the ventilator, I was desperate to take the first deep breath with non-diseased lungs. And only 12 days later, I walked out of Hopkins with a HUGE smile on my face!

I truly celebrate every part of my journey, all the ups and downs along the way, grateful for every breath. From all my health struggles, through divorce and coming out of the closet, my life has been a wild ride so far, and I look forward to all the challenges to come. What I have learned through this life of ups and downs is that we exist and thrive through love.

When I am up, I try to lift others up too. Let them know they are loved, that I believe in them! When I am down, I show gratefulness to the ones who are by my side. This has carried me through my whole life, and it is what makes my life whole.

I continue this battle against cystic fibrosis today, 35 years young and advocating for all CF patients, with a focus on those who have transplants, and are still waiting for one.


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