“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Will you take my breath away?

I remember the glistening rain falling down my cheeks as a six-year-old growing up in Bacolod, a small town in southern Philippines.  I remember splashing in the puddles and thinking that life couldn’t get any better.  The rain was weightless, unpredictable, and enchanting.  I looked forward to it every year to cool down the blistering summers.  But one day after I had been playing in the rain, I found myself gasping for air as my grandmother rushed me to an emergency room.  This was the day I was diagnosed with severe early-onset childhood asthma, a condition that I live with to this day. 

I never knew what would trigger my next attack.  The world was vast yet suddenly dangerous. With the shadow of fear cast over me, I lost that childlike curiosity to discover the pirates hiding in my garden; to chase after my dog, Sasha; to travel to far off places that I had never been.  I lost my will to explore as I lived in fear that it would cause me to take my last breath and so I stopped searching for my next adventure.   

Nevertheless, having lived with the condition for most of my life, I've learned to manage my symptoms.  And although I chose not to be a scientist, a doctor, or a researcher, I still dream of one day finding the cure to help the 300 million people who live with the same ailment.  Instead, I've chosen to be an entrepreneur – one who will not only invest in cutting-edge research but also fund organizations that will provide support and education to families and their children.  I can only hope for a day when each child could be free to live dangerously – to find that hidden treasure, to be chased by her ferocious canine, and to finally take that deep, long-awaited breath of crisp air on top of a mountain that she had once only dreamed of scaling – experiences that should take her breath away! 

 

— Kristie Gan