Tiffany S. was born in 1993 and a mere six days later she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Tiffany’s condition was manageable for many years, but when she was 17, she was listed for a double-lung transplant. Tiffany received that surgery the same year and before she was 18, she had two new lungs – and a new lease on life. However, five years later, Tiffany’s body began to reject the organs and in 2017, she received her second double-lung transplant.
Until January of 2018, Tiffany and her mom Shelly drove the long trip from Redding to Palo Alto, CA so Tiffany could make her appointments at Stanford. Unfortunately, she had a social worker who thought she didn’t qualify for our services. Once that was straightened out, they started using Angel Flight West (AFW). Over the next five years, Tiffany had 90 flights with our amazing volunteer pilots and numerous ground trips from our Earth Angels!
Shelly told me that the drive was a huge burden on them, especially financially, as they had to make that drive with all the expenses. The constant trips led to wear and tear on their vehicle and on their well-being. Once AFW started providing flights for Tiffany, Shelly didn’t need to take time off work because Tiffany was now an adult and could go to many of the appointments by herself. Shelly says that the pilots showed such kindness to her daughter, who was so grateful for the flights.
During that time, Tiffany began to develop friendships with so many of our pilots. One special relationship was with Northern California Volunteer Pilot Chris Bennett. Chris flew Tiffany 45 of those 90 trips. “Tiffany was one of my regular passengers,” says Chris. “I first flew her five years ago. She touched a lot of people and was relentless in her zest for life. I enjoyed her friendship, but it was also centering to spend time with her. I’ll be telling people about Tiffany for the rest of my life.” While Chris flew her many times, Tiffany’s relationship with other pilots and drivers was special to her, too.
Unfortunately, about two and half years ago, Tiffany began to reject her second set of lungs. I know from following her on social media, where she was an active champion for those with CF, that she tried multiple treatments and options… all to no avail. Tiffany was an inspiration to many on Facebook. Even today, the “cysters” she communicated with still post on her page. After looking at the possibilities, it became apparent that Tiffany was not eligible for another transplant and the other treatments were not working. Sadly, Tiffany passed away at home on March 7 with her family by her side.
I tell you this story with a sad ending, not because of the sad ending, but because of all that our volunteer pilots and drivers did to make Tiffany’s life richer and easier. These dedicated volunteers not only gave her the gift of time by shortening her travel time significantly, but they also gave her every opportunity to receive the treatment she needed. This was time she could spend at home with her friends and family. Please know that as a volunteer for Angel Flight West – your generosity and your heart can make a huge impact on the lives of the passengers who come to us every day. Thank you for being you and thank you for making a difference to Tiffany and those like her.
Blue Skies – Ciao – Cheri
A Celebration of Life will be held for Tiffany if you are interested in attending:
Date: June 3 at 12:00 p.m. PST
Location: Anderson River Park Scout Building, Anderson CA.
Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served. Please bring a lawn chair, and if you can, a salad or chips to share. Please notify Cheri at [email protected] if you plan to attend.