Welcome! I’m Cassie, the Breathless Adventurer. Why breathless? Great question!
There’s the obvious reason – beautiful scenes that take your breath away. However, there was a time I was always trying to catch my breath. No joke, just walking across the room was enough to have me gasping for air. It turned out I have an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) Syndrome, which causes white blood cells to attack healthy, moisture-producing glands. Translation: My immune system thinks my lungs are germs and need to be vanquished – with extreme prejudice.
I was diagnosed on October 25, 2014, and I was terrified. There’s something about being 29, having oxygen tied to your face and always feeling people’s pity. I had to prove to myself and everyone who knew me that I was not broken.
So I did.
It took a couple of years and a whole lot of pills to get my immune system beat into submission. During that time, I traveled with Gus, my little oxygen tanks. You can imagine the stares I got both on the trail and in everyday life. People just aren’t used to seeing someone under the age of 80 walking around with an oxygen tank tied to her face. My canula was constantly either smudging my lipstick or getting caught on tree branches.
June 27, 2016 was the last time I hiked with oxygen. My rheumatologist cautiously called me in remission in March 2017. These days I hike for fun, and not to prove a point. (And not nearly enough.) Plus, not having to carry a bunch of metal tanks opened up a lot of pack space for cameras and film.