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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My passion of drumming in a smoky bar: A Cystic Fibrosis musician

There are days when 26-year-old Emily Schaller can barely breathe because of cystic fibrosis – and playing in smoke-filled bars hasn't helped. She works in a store as her day job. At night, she's the drummer for Hellen, a Detroit rock band that performs concerts to support CF research. She plays in an annual "Just Let Me Breathe" concert fund-raiser.

Through Hellen and her organization, the Rock CF Foundation, she has generated thousands of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. CF is a chronic disease, genetic in origin, that causes the body to produce thick mucus that clogs the lungs.

"Just in the past few years I thought I wanted to do something I love, which is fund-raising," she says. She feels for her peers who can’t go out for fear of getting sick. "That makes me feel not really good, because I'm playing in a bar two nights a week. But you've got to weigh it. Is it sitting at home and watching a movie, which you don't really want to do, or is it going after my passion, which is drumming in a smoky bar?"

"My parents have always treated me like I don't have CF. It's not going to stop me from doing anything."

Advice: Dedicate yourself to living as fully as you can with your disease, and help beat your disease, like Emily.

Read another hero story.

Thanks to Natasha Robinson for the source article in the May 11 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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