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 all the time. 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, uncertain about your future and always feeling people looking at you with extreme pity – as if your life was over before it began. I had to prove to myself and everyone who saw 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, trying to keep her canula from smudging her lipstick or getting caught on a tree branch. (I can’t tell you how many times I’d be walking on the trail and have the tube pulled off my face. I wrecked so many canulas that way.) On the trail I looked like something from “Mad Max.”
June 27, 2016 was the last time I hiked with oxygen, and it feels so good not to have to carry oxygen with me everywhere I go. These days I hike for fun, and not to prove a point. Plus, not having to carry around 30-pounds of breathable matter opened up a lot of pack space for cameras and film.