Famous People with Cystic Fibrosis

Sometimes, people can’t help but regard celebrities as saints or even immortal gods. They get so enamored with the characters or roles that these actors and actresses play that they sometimes forget that those are just their jobs and that they are only portraying what the story asks for. The same can be said with politicos, sports stars and other people who have risen above anonymity and have endeared themselves to the common folks.

These famous personalities are humans, too. They make mistakes, feel tired, get angry, and get sick. Yes, they are not immune to negativity. There are highly regarded politicians like former US President Bill Clinton, ex-New York Governor aka ‘Client 9’ Eliot Spitzer, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and former British Secretary of State for War John Profumo who have been embroiled in sex scandals.

Religious figures are also not exempted from the public eye. Then there are the likes of Lance Armstrong who have fallen from grace after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs. Recently, the NBA found traces of marijuana in Larry Sanders’ system paving the way for the Milwaukee Bucks forward to be suspended. There are also a lot of instances that seemingly harmless and vibrant celebrities lose their cool. Naomi Campbell and Russell Crowe quickly come to mind.

Of course, celebrities are not immune to sickness as well. Few may know that Hugh Jackman had skin cancer on his nose or that NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne is suffering from multiple sclerosis. Former actor and US President Ronald Reagan is a shadow of his former self after battling Alzheimer’s disease for years while singer Linda Ronstadt and actor Michael J. Fox are suffering from Parkinson’s disease. When it comes to cystic fibrosis, some celebrities are also not exempted.

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that is passed on or inherited. It targets the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a defective gene which produces a protein product that triggers the creation of thick mucus. This condition becomes fatal when the sticky mucus clogs the lungs and pancreas causing infections. The mucus also prevents natural enzymes from aiding in proper food digestion. Around 30,000 Americans and 70,000 people in the rest of the world are suffering from cystic fibrosis.

A List of Famous People with Cystic Fibrosis

Frankie Jo Abernathy : The late Frankie Jo Abernathy appeared in MTV’s The Real World: San Diego from 2003 to June 2004. The Kansas City native is known for her punk persona and addiction to Hello Kitty but is more remembered for battling cystic fibrosis during her stint with the show. Her supposed 15 minutes of fame contributed a lot to opening the eyes of many to the effects of the disease. Sadly, Abernathy lost her battle to cystic fibrosis in June 2007 at the tender age of 25. To commemorate her contribution to raising national awareness to the disease, a Blue Springs High School scholarship was set up in Frankie’s name.

Albert Einstein : Another suspected victim of cystic fibrosis is Mr. E=mc2 himself, Albert Einstein. However, his death was officially listed as due to rapture on his aortic aneurysm.

Bill Balas : Director and screenwriter Bill Balas is known for his work on Bates Motel. He has won in some film fests.

Dean Barnett : Barnett is another relatively young casualty of cystic fibrosis. He hosted a radio show where he could often be heard talking about his condition. He also often blogged about cystic fibrosis and discussed it in his columns in an effort to promote awareness for the disease. He was also into politics and even ran once for state representative. Barnett lost his battle on October 2008 when he was 41 years old.

Lisa Bentley : Bentley’s story is an inspiring one. Lisa was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1988 and went on to finish first in Ironman competitions for an impressive eleven times. The triathlete from Canada also won the bronze and silver in the Ironman World Championship and the Ironman World Championship 70.3, respectively.

Nathan Charles : Nathan Charles currently plays for the Western Force in the Super Rugby competition as the hooker. He also plies his ware with the English Club Gloucester. The 25 year old is only one of the many famous people with cystic fibrosis to still play competitive sports even with this disease.

Chris Davies : Another member of the prestigious group of famous people with cystic fibrosis, Davies did not let his condition deter his passion. He played cricket professionally for South Africa from 1997 to 2004. He went on to win Coach of the Year Award right after retiring from playing. Davies is currently the General Manager of the South Australian National Football League.

Alexandra Deford : Another young victim of cystic fibrosis, Alexandra is the daughter of writer Frank Deford. The elder Deford has written for Sports Illustrated for 50 years and has released a book entitled Alex: A Life of a Child which is about Alexandra who died from CF at the age of eight. Frank has served as chairman for the CF Foundation for a total of 17 years.

Gunnar Esiason : Gunnar is the son of former football player Boomer Esiason who currently works as a color commentator. The CF patient is now 23 years old.

Nolan Gottlieb : Gottlieb used to play basketball for Division III school Anderson. He went on to coach for his alma mater. All these while fighting cystic fibrosis.

Julia Rae : Julia Rae is talented singer and composer who performed in a charity event held by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the people of Desperate Housewives. She often tells her story of a young 19 year old making music and living her life while coping with cystic fibrosis. Her songs including “Singing at the Top of My Lungs” are available on iTunes.

Bob Flanagan : Flanagan was a performance artist noted for extreme acts of masochism. His career was highlighted by the controversial music videos, “Happiness in Slavery” by Nine Inch Nails and ‘It’s Coming Down’ by Danzig where he pierced his penis with a nail. Even if he survived such mutilations, he still succumbed to cystic fibrosis in 1996 at the age of 43.

Bill Williams : Video game designer and computer programmer Bill Williams is responsible for games such as Alley Cat, Necromancer, Salmon Run, Monopoly for NES and Bart’s Nightmare for Super NES. He died at the age of 38 from cystic fibrosis.

Frederic Chopin : The famous pianist and composer is suspected to be another victim of cystic fibrosis. Chopin died in 1849 at the age of 39 from what was then considered tuberculosis. However, recent investigations suggest that his symptoms were more of cystic fibrosis which was not known during those days. It would be easier to determine the Chopin’s real cause of death if not for the fact that his heart is preserved in alcohol and that the Polish government won’t give its permission to have it tested for DNA. If the scientists’ hunch proves true, Chopin will be one of the most famous people with cystic fibrosis ever.

Other famous people with cystic fibrosis are wrestler Andrew Simmons, the late Christine Nelson who is an actress and the daughter of puppeteer Jerry, activist and children’s book writer Travis Flores, Fraser Brown the son of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French singer Gregory Lemarchal who died in 2007, and Alice Martineau who is a model and singer who sadly passed away in 2003.

Because of the rising awareness and continuous struggle to fully understand cystic fibrosis, a number of people including celebrities have taken the cudgels from their contemporaries – the famous people with cystic fibrosis. Hollywood icon Bill Murray, who is an avid golfer, hosted the 10th Annual Murray Brothers Caddyshack Charity Golf Tournament in 2010 with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation one of the beneficiaries. Richard Marx also lends his talents and time to help people with cystic fibrosis. In fact, he has helped raised over $3 million mostly through his Newsapalooza Annual Benefit Concert to fund research and find treatment for CF. Singer Celine Dion is another advocate who held a benefit concert for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 2013 which raised an impressive one million dollars. Other celebrities who have given their time and resources to help fight cystic fibrosis are Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Dakota Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jack Johnson, Eva Longoria, and Tony Hawk.