On January 19 th, 2000, Chris and Lori Pappageorgas received the worst news any parent could get from Stanford Hospital. Their oldest son, Nick, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal disease. Exactly one month later, their daughter Melissa was also diagnosed with this debilitating illness. At the time, Nick was 16 ½ years old, and Melissa was 14 ½. The mean life expectancy for an individual with CF was 26 years. The news that their children's life was more than half over was devastating. How could this be? Most individuals are diagnosed with CF before the age of three, while many are diagnosed at birth. Melissa and Nick had been misdiagnosed by several doctors repeatedly told they had asthma and allergies. Chris and Lori scheduled an appointment with Dr. Richard Kanak, a local adult pulmonologist. With one glance at Nick’s x-ray, Dr. Kanak firmly urged the family to go to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital to have Nick tested for Cystic Fibrosis as soon as possible.
Nick and Melissa both tested positive for CF and were put on an extensive respiratory therapy program as well as several prescription medications and told to go back to their regular routine at home. The next two years flew by. Nick had been accepted to the University of Southern California. The following year, Melissa was also accepted to USC and off she went. They both graduated from USC in 4 years, even though they had several hospital stays at USC Medical Center.
Chris and Lori began taking part in CF fundraisers while their children were in college. They began to hear of more and more CF patients in their early twenties. What Chris and Lori were witnessing was the first widespread adult population with Cystic Fibrosis ever. Until this point, children were not living to adulthood. With this new population of young adults with CF came many new challenges and difficulties. The child with CF had several organizations to seek assistance, however since there had never been a need, there weren't any programs available to help the adult CFers.
In 2008 Chris and Lori founded The Living Breath Foundation, which would assist individuals and families in need. With Nick and Melissa advising the foundation, they created several aid programs to assist CFers to help combat the exorbitant everyday expenses caused by the disease. These programs include financial aid grants, academic scholarships, hospital care packages, medical bills or medical equipment, and double lung transplant aid.
Now in their thirteenth year, the Living Breath Foundation is honored to be able to assist the Cystic Fibrosis community in California and Arizona. The foundation is proud to work closely with Stanford, UCSF, and USC CF clinics. The Living Breath Foundation plays a vital part in advancing the quality of life for CF patients through these aid programs.