Live Life Like Erin

Cf Warrior Erin Lyn McKenna was a spitfire from the moment she was born. Her mother, Jaime, insists that she took life and rattled it, drawing from it all the nectar and inspiring all who crossed her path to do the same because, as Erin so eloquently wrote to her many friends and family before her passing, “when the time comes that you can’t, you’ll wish you had done more.”

Diagnosed with CF two weeks before her ninth birthday, Erin enjoyed every moment of her life, smiling through even her darkest hours. She loved traveling and being outdoors, hiking, camping, shooting, and four wheeling. She rescued everything and anything that needed it, from people to mice. “The week before she died it was a hamster, Duke,” Jaime says fondly, “We transported it out of a Petsmart in a space-mobile home. I still have him.

At her job working for a construction company, she put order to chaos everyday and was much loved by all of her co-workers for her spirit. She bravely moved a gator out of harm’s way and braved a storm washed bridge to help a lost chihuahua. Her courage and spunk was testament during her battle with cystic fibrosis. “I watched her go through unimaginable things,” Jaime says. “I watched on my knees, telling her I loved her and I watched her keep going no matter what.”

Erin insisted on living life fully with her friends, family and partner Kyle, and she was also committed to using her own battles and experiences with cystic fibrosis to help other CFer’s. In the last year of her life, she participated in antibiotic trials that ravaged her body and was gearing up to participate in Phage Therapies which use viruses to attack bacteria. CFer’s often develop superbugs resistant to antibiotics because of the amount of antibiotics they have to consume throughout their lives. She was completely tuned in with her body, and most often miles ahead of the doctors and nurses caring for her when it came to diagnosis.

Erin never once faltered in her desire to live, even when things looked grim. She engendered the same determination in others. During a bad infection, the family was desperate to get her to Duke for treatment, but the amount of oxygen Erin required to stay alive was impossible to sustain with a regular travel itinerary, so her partner Kyle came up with a plan to hook Erin’s oxygen concentrators up to a generator on the back of his pickup truck, running her oxygen tubes through the back window. Jaime claims they went overboard decorating every hospital room, making it their own—they were spending so much time there, why not? This is the type of ingenuous tenacity and dogged resolution that our CF warriors consistently inspire in their communities to make things happen, to live life to its fullest.

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