You've Been Given the Gift of Life, Give it Back!

Welcome friends and family!

Thank you for visiting my blog. It documents my amazing journey from pre to post double lung transplant. I am a 37 year old mother and wife with Cystic Fibrosis who has been more greatly blessed than I could ever imagine possible!

It has been a bumpy ride, but God has given me strength, love, friendship, and, FINALLY, health. My prayers have been answered, my miracle was granted, and I want to share the joy of my new life with you.

If you are a first time visitor, please take a moment to watch The Miracle of Transplantation video below. To me, pictures speak a thousand words.

My entries begin in April of 2008 and my double lung transplant was December 10. Scroll down to my blog archive and you can read from the beginning or jump around. If you are looking for a specific topic, you can use the search engine.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or feedback, I would love to hear from you!

I hope I can help you to experience the love God has for each and every one of us!

May God Bless You with Miracles in Your Life! Nancy


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Easter Challenge

Dear friends,

As we approach the anniversary of our Lord's death for us, I have a very special challenge for each of us.  In memory of Christ, open yourselves to others this week.  Turn away from internal things and look outward.  Reach out to others expecting nothing in return.  Seek to be Christlike this week in memory of our loving Savior!

May God bless you this Easter and always!  Nancy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Revolve Was AWESOME!!!!!

What an amazing weekend we had.  Boy do I wish they had events like this when I was a teenager.  There were over 4000 Christian Girls and Moms and we blasted that stadium for two days straight.

  Hawk Nelson was the headlining music group, and let me just tell you, they don't play your average Christian music!  There were three amazing rock/rap/pop/punk groups and by the screaming of the girls, I would say they loved them!

Hawk Nelson

Brit Nicole

and Group 1 Crew (A Christian version of Black Eyed Peas)

There were fabulous speakers and some really funny skits.

Our group of girls!

I am so thankful Hannah and I were able to attend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tomorrow Hannah and I head to Reading, PA for the Revolve Tour, HOORAY!

Happy Birthday!!!!

Attention College Students with CF

CFCareForward Scholarship for Young Adults with Cystic Fibrosis

I thought you would be interested to know that the 2011 CFCareForward Scholarship Application is now available online for the first time at

For 19 years, this Scholarship has provided financial assistance to exceptional students living with cystic fibrosis (CF). This year, 40 students will be awarded a $2,500 Scholarship based on their achievements, essay and creative presentation submitted with the application. Of these 40, TWO students – one Undergraduate and one Graduate Student - will each be awarded $19,000 for use in the upcoming school year. Students may submit their application through May 27, 2011.

Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

National Donate Life Month!

I just wanted to remind all of you that April is National Donate Life Month.  If you are a recipient, here are some great ideas from UNOS for ways to celebrate.

April 4, 2011

National Donate Life Month -- An Opportunity for Recipients to Express Gratitude and Remembrance

National Donate Life Month, celebrated nationwide each April, presents a wonderful occasion for transplant recipients and their loved ones to express gratitude for the life-giving act of organ donation and remind the public of the need that still exists for many other people.
We encourage those of you personally touched by the transplant experience to share your thoughts with others this month. The opportunities are limitless, but here are some suggestions:
  • Write a letter, or even just send a card, to your living donor or your donor family.
  • If you participate in social media (FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, etc.), make a post about how your transplant experience has helped you and others.
  • If you haven't done so already, submit a tribute to the National Donor Memorial Web site.
  • Seek an opportunity to talk about your experience in your place of worship or a civic/service organization meeting.
  • Take part in a donor remembrance ceremony sponsored by your local transplant center or organ procurement organization.
  • Send a letter to the editor of your local paper describing your experience and the difference it has made for you.

This is my Aunt Peg, Well Done Good and Faithful Servant!

My mom and Peggy became friends years ago as young sisters in the convent.  That friendship has grown through the years and Peggy is part of our family.  We are so proud of the wonderful work she is doing for God!

Nancy Ruhling

Nancy Ruhling

Astoria Characters: The Nun of God

Posted: 03/31/11 02:00 PM ET

The convent of Immaculate Conception Church is jailed from 31st Street by towering black bars. The nuns don't use the double front doors, crossed with wooden crucifixes.
So it is that Sister Margaret McCabe, a wisp of a woman as sturdy as an oak, answers the bell at the side entrance.
The convent has been her home for a quarter century, shortly after she became the chaplain of the Robert N. Davoren Center on Rikers Island. She leads the way to a single-windowed, cell-like room.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Sister Margaret was in grade school when she decided to do God's work.

It contains a pair of chintz-covered wingbacks, a red sofa, a 1920s folding dining table and an end table illuminated by a solitary lamp. Like Sister Margaret, these hand-me-downs are praiseworthy, practical and plain.
Sister Margaret, who just turned 70, was raised on Crescent Street, a handful of blocks away. Her parents -- her father came from Ireland as did her mother's parents -- were upstanding, church-going people, which is how she came to be enrolled in Immaculate Conception's school.
The oldest of three girls, Sister Margaret was a tomboy who played sports and piano, danced like a dervish and ran like the wind.
"I wasn't the most probable candidate for religious life," says Sister Margaret, who clips her words are precisely as a gardener trimming boxwood hedges. "But when I was eight, I had to write a composition for school on what I wanted to be. I really wanted to be a sister. The awe of the holy, the sense of being close to God, that's what attracted me."
The nuns at Immaculate Conception were Holy Union Sisters, an order devoted to teaching. When it came time for Sister Margaret to go to high school, she chose Holy Union Prep, in Rhode Island, and after three more years of formal training, she pronounced her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1961.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Sister Margaret has been at Immaculate Conception for a quarter century.

Her first assignment was teaching second-graders in a Catholic school in Baltimore.
Sister Margaret embarked upon religious life at a time when the world and the church were on the cusp of change. Through the decades of her devotion, habits would get shorter and more stylish before being replaced by street clothes, and sisters such as herself would get more freedom in choosing what they wanted to do and where they wanted to work.
"I wanted to do this, so the strict rules didn't matter," she says. "I don't think my life was any harder than my sisters', who both married, and I didn't feel I was missing anything."
Her teaching took her to various states and exposed to her a variety of subjects and students. She went to college part-time, eventually earning a bachelor's degree from the College of the Sacred Hearts. She also earned a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Loyola University and a professional diploma in counseling and personnel services from Fordham University.
"I realized, at some point, that I was good with adolescent kids who had problems," she says.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
On her left hand, her mother's wedding ring and a religious ring are married.

Eventually, she volunteered to be the principal at St. Francis de Sales High School in Harlem. She served there for seven years before getting the post at Rikers, where she works with adolescent boys and adult men.
Sister Margaret may be only five foot three, but she stands tall at the jail. "Some people think you have to be six foot five and a bruiser to do this job," she says, chuckling.
What she offers inmates is simple -- love with no toughness or any other strings attached.
"These people have no one who cares for them," she says. "And I tell them that I love them, that God loves them."
She remembers a young man named Augustine. Tall and slender, he came to her office with his head down. Sister Margaret shook his hand -- "I always feel the human touch is very important" -- and proceeded to listen to his story.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Sister Margaret, Rikers Island chaplain, offers hope to inmates.

His mother, he told her, was mentally ill and to cope, he smoked pot and stole cars.
"When he finished, I set up another appointment with him, and I asked him what else I could do for him," she says. "He told me, 'A hug would do.' And it did."
Sister Margaret, as the chaplain for the Emerald Society of the Correction Department, marches in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. She was given a medal by Mayor Mike Bloomberg last year for her service to the city.
"I was shocked when I got it," she says, still amazed. "I get my medals every day because people are good to me."
Being a Rikers chaplain is much more than a job to Sister Margaret. "The people in my jail are my parishioners," she says. "Working at Rikers is part of my life, of who I am. And I always feel I get more than I give."
To unwind, Sister Margaret takes daily walks to the river and reads espionage thrillers. Robert Ludlum is one of her favorites.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
The Virgin Mary stands guard behind the convent's bars.

When she's not doing jail duty, she's working in the convent, where, like the other sisters, she helps with the cooking, cleaning and shopping. Outside its walls, she spreads God's word through lectures and presentations. Saturday, she's a participant in History Roundtable: Sisters of Compassion at the Greater Astoria Historical Society.
"People, not things, are important to me," she says. "I don't own anything. My salary goes to the sisters, but I do get a budget for personal and business expenses."
The serviceable suits and sensible shoes she wears to Rikers, she gets them on sale. "I am, after all, my mother's daughter," she says.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Sister Margaret in the convent's chapel.

Sister Margaret knows she can't turn around the life of each inmate, but she does hope that she makes a difference. "If I judged my success by my own values -- having all the inmates become good Catholics and never returning to jail -- I would have retired long ago," she says.
God willing, she'll continue at Rikers for at least five more years. "When I get to the point where I can't walk up and down the corridors, I'll give it up," she says. "But Catholic sisters don't retire while we're well."
When Sister Margaret leads me out of the convent, she puts out her hand to shake mine. Then she stops herself.
"Hon, you deserve a hug," she says, throwing her arms around me.
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at
Copyright 2011 by Nancy A. Ruhling
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The Miracle of Transplantation

Pause the music player before watching.