Bionic CF Warrior

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Rod Spadinger

Bionic is derived from the Greek root word “bios," which means life.

So, how many transplants does it take for someone to be considered a bionic woman?

Rae is the name of this Cystic Fibrosis Warrior. This bionic woman. This Bionic Cystic Fibrosis Warrior.

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I have had the privilege of knowing this young lady for several years through her artwork via Facebook. The way Rae applies pen and brush to paper to create a masterful, magnificent image is something truly magic. I did not think I would have the opportunity to meet her until I was in the middle of a 3,300-mile journey last week through the midwestern United States. 

It was as I was on an expedition, en-route to visit another courageous and indestructible Cystic Fibrosis Warrior in neighboring Missouri, when the thought came upon me to message Rae, who lives in Nebraska. I inquired whether she may be free for lunch in a couple of days. Much to my happiness, she agreed to meet up in her town to grab a bite.  

This was turning out to be a remarkable voyage. 

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The magic of meeting one person with Cystic Fibrosis is special. The excitement of meeting three is incredible.

All four of us have experienced lung transplants. Of those three courageous young ladies who I had a chance to visit with, not one of them is above the other in strength, grit, and resiliency. 

Then what is the reason I refer to Rae as a bionic woman?

Two heart transplants. Two lung transplants. With the most recent occurring less than three months ago. And altogether anxious to continue her CrossFit regimen just as soon as her transplant team allows.

All the same, while engaging with Rae, I found you would never know that any type of adversity had ever befallen her. Throughout our late lunch at what turned out to be an above-average quality pizza place at a strip mall in Lincoln, very little was discussed of her ailments. For the most part, we discussed her family, her friends, our mutual Facebook friends, and those in our CF Community. 

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Her yearning to return to work less than three months after one of the most involved treatments anyone could conceptualize, is remarkable, to say the least. 

Just as I was blessed by my angel donor, Joni Marie, who saved and extended my existence by checking the box of life, Rae’s three angel donors miraculously extended her life more times than anyone could ever expect. More than anyone could ever reasonably hope. One of Rae's surgeries was a heart and lung transplant from the same person, which is why she has three angel donors, rather than four.

Indeed, despite the odds and health circumstances of the past, Rae possesses the outlook of one who seemingly has never faced a bad day. The sun is always shining in her world. Clearly in stark contrast to the reality Rae has been faced with. Her smile, her laughter, her positivity. All of it is what you would expect from a Cystic Fibrosis Warrior.

Further, a Bionic Cystic Fibrosis Warrior.

Bionic is derived from the Greek root word “bios," which means life.

Bios. Three angel donors. Three second chances. Four lives.

This Bionic Cystic Fibrosis Warrior.

Note Since this was originally written in May 2019, Rae has returned to work. She is currently employed as a Perfusion Specialist and an adjunct professor of Health Sciences. Rae also teaches some courses in science and math. A CF Warrior, indeed.
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**I engaged on my journey to tour the country and meet others with Cystic Fibrosis beginning in May 2019. My first visit was to Amber Goff in LaPorte, Indiana from my home in Dallas, Texas. I intended that to be a single road trip, a one-time adventure. However, I gained so much from my time with Amber, I was inspired to connect with more. As a result, I drove more than 24,000 miles in that year, and met 24 Cystic Fibrosis Warriors and their families.

Respecting CF infection control policies and guidelines, understood by myself and those I visit, during this and every meeting, precautionary measures were taken. Abiding by those guidelines, I wear a Medical Grade Facemask during the entire meeting, and maintain a distance of several feet between us, with no physical contact ever made.**


  Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-



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Rod Spadinger, 47, has Cystic Fibrosis. Born and raised in Hawaii, he moved to Dallas, Texas, where he underwent a double lung and liver transplant in August 2017. From the age of four, until he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as a junior in high school, he ran at least five miles a day, in order to keep his lungs clean. Rod’s exercise routine now consists nearly daily visits to the gym. He is on a continuing journey to connect with fellow Cystic Fibrosis patients throughout the United States, having driven over 24,000 miles in 2019 with these travels. Inspired by The Lord and his angel donor, Joni Marie, who provided him with her gifts of life, Rod published the memoirs of his post-transplant journey, and celebration of this second life, in the book “A Collection of 50 Stories Inspired by my Ange Donor, Joni Marie”. He is currently compiling a subsequent publication, primarily consisting of documenting his road trip encounters with fellow CF Warriors. Connect with Rod on Facebook under his name, and on Facebook at Cystic Fibrosis Artists; Two New Lungs, One New Liver – A Year and Beyond with Cystic Fibrosis; and Cystic Fibrosis Road Warrior – Ashleigh’s Life Foundation.



***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 


***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***


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