The Warrior Across From Me

Posted by: 
Rod Spadinger

No one recognizes and understands the risk of undergoing a procedure that could save your life more than someone who has been living with a condition that could, and will, take your life.

The IHOP on Veterans Boulevard provided a nice setting and a comfortable place to decompress. In the middle of the eatery famous for its chicken and syrup. In the middle of the country.

Two of us with Cystic Fibrosis. Both of us in the middle of a process, post double lung transplant. In the middle of an adventure. 

Denim jacket. CF Warrior patch. Shoulder length hair. This was my breakfast mate.

Those lungs, designed to function until providing a final breath, decades from initial origination, are going to be replaced by lungs from an angel donor. What you are informed of prior to the lung transplant is that these new organs will not last forever. It is these new lungs that will be rejected at some point.

21% lung function at the time of our lunch that day. The lung function of a person with end-stage CF, but, ideally, not of one with fresh, new angel donor lungs. Perhaps edging toward rejection. This is what Warrior Ethan Hamilton has experienced.

How could I know this by sitting across from Ethan? Me sipping my coffee. He dining on a Colorado omelet.

Of course, I could not. The battles of a Warrior are hidden deep by courage.  

In preparation for a lung transplant, we are informed of the perils of such a procedure. Typical risks, few that are enough to keep someone who has CF and the accommodating poor lung function from undergoing the surgery. But enduring a stroke during the surgery is not typically one of the hazards. 

5% is the likelihood of that occuring during transplant. So rare that this factor is hardly, if ever, mentioned by the professionals. A manifestation just as life threatening as the wilting, failing lungs that were the genesis of this transplant. This is what Warrior Ethan Hamilton experienced. 

How could I know this by sitting across from Ethan? Me sipping my coffee. He entertaining a sweet iced tea.

Of course, I could not. The trials of a Warrior are hidden deep by scars.  

What we talked about during that breakfast did not matter. In fact, it was greatly insignificant. It all paled in comparison to the battles Ethan has fought and won. Through Cystic Fibrosis, through the current 21% lung function, through the seizure on the operating table.

The blue denim material of the jacket Ethan wore to breakfast that morning was sturdy. The patch affixed to that jacket affirms the tenacity of the person sporting the outfit. 

This Cystic Fibrosis Warrior that sat across from me was more than just a Cystic Fibrosis patient. More than just a transplant survivor. 

He was a brother in arms. He was a legionary. He was, in fact, a true Cystic Fibrosis Warrior.


 Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER- 



Rod Spadinger, 48, 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 to keep his lungs clean. In 2019, and into early this year, he journeyed to connect with fellow Cystic Fibrosis patients throughout the United States, having driven over 26,000 miles 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. Rod also Co-Founded and is the Executive Director of a CF focused non-profit organization, CF Vests for Life Foundation (  Connect with him 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; Cystic Fibrosis Road Warrior – Ashleigh’s Life Foundation; and CF Vests for 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***


To receive an e-mail notification and link to the new CFLF blog post each week please e-mail to be added to our list.




Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <h3> <h4> <h5>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Support CFLF