The story of a young girl's battle with
asthma and how it took her life
We were blessed when our Cristiane was born in New York on April 28, 1993. She was a very happy child, although always sick and on asthma medication. At just the tender age of two my daughter Cristiane Lynn Cabrera was diagnosed with chronic asthma, and so began the battle for her life.
Cristi's struggle with asthma had her in and out of the hospital, always on the nebulizer and on all medications available to asthma patients. Cristi had great will, but was always very limited in how much she could do.
In 1998, following the advice of her specialist, who suggested a dry climate, we left New York and moved to El Paso, Texas. Cristi's health took a turn for the better, her hospital stays shortened and she began to participate in sports and other activities, her favorite being cheerleading. Cheerleading was her life and Cristi gave it her all. She had to stop many times to catch her breathe or take a treatment, but she didn't let this stop her. Her will and determination was certainly to be admired.
Then came the week of February 22, a week we will always remember.
Sunday, February 22, 2004: Cristi had a hard day. She was having difficulty breathing and this lasted until Monday. On Monday, Cristi's father left on a business trip. She was sad and not feeling well, so I decided to keep her home to rest and recuperate.
Tuesday, February 24: Cristi went to school, but had to be picked up at 10:30 a.m. We then went right to her doctor's office By the time she was seen, she was feeling much better. Nonetheless, an appointment was scheduled the next day for her to see her specialist.
Wednesday, February 25: We saw her Specialist. Cristi was doing much better and showed no signs of distress. She was sent home to continue her asthma medications. On the way home, Cristi suggested we have a mother-daughter day. We did just that and we went to lunch.
Thursday, February 26: Cristi participated in a school field trip. She had a wonderful day, no signs of distress or breathing problems. Then came Friday.
Friday, February 27: Another day like any other, I thought. Cristi left for school, she was excited about going on another school field trip. They were off to the symphony. After returning from the school field trip, she said her chest felt tight and she needed breathing treatments While at work, I received a phone call from the school nurse (who knew Cristiane well and had good control of her condition). She felt that Cristi should be picked up, which we did. I then called Cristi's doctor and he suggested I take her to the hospital where he would be conducting a children's clinic that evening. Knowing that Cristi would be admitted over night, we went home and packed a bag and headed to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, Cristi started having difficulty breathing and her inhaler was not helping. To comfort her, I started to pat her on the back as I drove. She suggested we call 911 and at that point, I started to panic. I debated whether to pull over and wait for an ambulance or continue to drive to the hospital. We were only 10 minutes away so I made the decision to keep going. I thought I would make better time and I wanted to get my daughter help as soon as possible. Still in control, Cristi told me to slow down, she was "O.K." She was such a strong girl. I continued to talk to my daughter, trying to remain calm, as she rocked back and forth trying to catch her breath. Finally, we arrived at the hospital.
There was no place nearby to park the truck so I had to carry Cristi from the parking garage to the emergency room. Her little body felt as if it weighed 300 pounds. As we got closer, I lost my breath. She felt too heavy and I had to put her down. She then suggested that she would walk. As I got ready to pick her up again, we spotted a technician pushing a wheelchair. We put Cristi in the wheelchair and started to run towards the emergency room. Finally, we were at the triage desk and I noticed that Cristi's lips were turning purple. The triage nurse carried her in his arms as he ran into the trauma room. Nurses and doctors hurried to her rescue. At last, she is in their hands, I thought, as I waited outside the room worried and scared.
Finally after waht felt like an eternity, the doctor came out. "How is she?", I asked. With sadness the doctor answered, "Not good, she is no longer with us". Nothing could have ever prepared me for those words. The very asthma that she was diagnosed with at 2 years of age, took her life at the age of 10.
What started out as another day, ended with the loss of a strong, beautiful young girl. Our lives are changed forever. Our Cristi was gone!
We, along with the American Lung Association, ask for your support to promote asthma awareness with the Blow the Whistle on Asthma Walk. Please join us on May 7th to show your support.
The Cabrera Family
Orlando, Elsy, Caitlynn and Chloe