STROLO Star: Kyle O'Tain

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Julie Winn

This past spring the CFLF launched the STROLO Star program, where we spotlight bright stars in our CFLF community. This program aims to share more stories from members of our CFLF community, including Recreation Grant recipients, volunteers, CFLF board members, CFLF Blog writers, STROLO-U instructors, sponsors, and more.

Over the summer we had the amazing opportunity to sit down and speak with Kyle O’Tain, which we are now sharing for our STROLO Star this fall. Kyle O’Tain is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, California. He enjoys surfing, boxing, and riding motorcycles. He strives for a zen, but active, lifestyle and meditates daily. He has cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and is over eight years post lung transplant. He is also a four-time CFLF Recreation Grant recipient.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with CFLF Founder and Executive Director, Brian Callanan, and Kyle to talk about his life with cystic fibrosis after transplant, his creative dreams and spreading awareness about CF.

Here is a glimpse of the interview we had with Kyle.

Julie: How has exercise impacted your health? Not only your physical health, but mental health as well?

Kyle: It’s the foundation on which my health is built on. Without it I don’t know if I’d even be alive. Boxing got me through very very difficult times, mentally and physically. I think training for a fight is essentially in a way mentally preparing you for struggles you’ll have with CF. As your lung functions decrease, as you get closer to transplant, as you get sicker, there is a lot of overlap with boxing and just running out of oxygen and pacing yourself, feeling pain and pushing through that. And I think that gives you a mental fortitude to endure something that you really don’t want to endure, but you have to. And I think that is part of the reason why I’m still alive. And after that, with working out, I think that with building muscle you get a release of dopamine after every workout. You feel better about yourself. You're less likely to have depressing thoughts. As you see results and you start to build muscle, you start to feel better about yourself physically. Like, okay “I don’t feel like I look like a sick person anymore” and that gives you confidence and everything, mentally. You can never say too much good about exercise, in terms of CF. I think it’s one of the most important things to living and being healthy.

Brian: I understand you’re now eight years post transplant. Can you tell us more about that experience and how your life has changed since transplant?

Kyle: Yeah, the transplant was tough, but I’m very glad I got through it. My life is night and day compared to pre-transplant. Everything was a struggle before the transplant. I was constantly getting sick. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I worked, I would still end up sick in the hospital. And there was nothing I felt like I could do to get over that. And since the transplant I feel like I have a normal life. I have the ability to have a social life. To have career ambitions. To really pursue things that were very much limited by constantly being hospitalized and having to start over. It’s been great. I don’t know if I could have done it sooner, that would have been awesome. But it’s been amazing. To have a life that’s not constantly tied up, constantly doing medications, constantly micromanaging your health and not seeing results. That becomes mentally draining.

Julie: So Kyle you live in Los Angeles and you’re a screenwriter. Can you tell us more about that and tell us a little bit more about what kinds of scripts you write and what you do?

Kyle: I’m working to be a TV writer, or write feature films, whichever they’ll pay me for. I really want to focus on stories that include people and characters with disabilities and chronic illnesses because I feel like it’s something that isn’t done right in hollywood a lot of times. There are a lot of negative tropes out there and stereotypes. I feel like that is damaging. We need a lot more awareness. I think a lot of people may not have someone with CF in their life, or ALS, or some other debilitating disease, so they don’t know. There is nothing out there for them to see it and if it’s not in the media we don’t really get an understanding of it. I think it’s really important we start having stories that include people with disabilities and chronic illness, but not use them as a crutch for a plot point, or things like that. Really add them organically as we are in real life and try to normalize that. Those are the stories I’m most interested in telling, but through the lens of a genre like an action movie or something like that.

Take a look at the full interview here, and get to know our STROLO Star of the Season, Kyle!  



Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-




Julie Winn is a long time volunteer turned Communications Coordinator for the CFLF, providing social media and marketing support to the organization. She has attended many of CFLF Fundraising events over the years, and is also active with other non-profit organizations in Vermont. She lives in South Burlington with her spouse and child and enjoys hiking, swimming, traveling and spending time in the great outdoors. 





***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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