8 Famous People with Cystic Fibrosis

These people haven't let CF stop them from living a full life

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Decades ago a cystic fibrosis (CF) diagnosis almost guaranteed a significantly shorter than average life expectancy. Today, thanks to modern medicine and an improved understanding of CF, people with CF can lead full and productive lives.

These famous people with cystic fibrosis have gone above and beyond their diagnoses to prove you can lead a full life with CF. 

1. Lisa Bentley

Lisa Bentley, 47, a Canadian triathlete, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in her 20’s.

Born in 1968, she has surpassed the average life expectancy for those with CF, and continues to live an extremely active life. Bentley stresses the importance of strict adherence to treatment regimens and exercise for people living with CF. She has won 11 Ironman competitions and is one of the most successful triathletes. 

2. Gunnar Esiason

Gunnar Esiason, 24, is the son of former NFL football star Boomer Esiason and his wife Cheryl. Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was two. Ironically, Boomer was involved in cystic fibrosis awareness and fundraising campaigns for several years before his son’s diagnosis. Boomer is the founder of the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote CF research and improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis. Gunnar is a graduate of Boston College and coaches high school football on Long Island, New York. 

3. Nolan Gottlieb

Nolan Gottlieb, a former basketball player and assistant basketball coach at Anderson University in South Carolina, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was a child.

He struggled with poor growth when he was a teen, but thrived after having a feeding tube placed in his stomach. The 6’1” basketball player eventually nabbed a spot on Anderson’s varsity basketball team. Like many other athletes with cystic fibrosis, Gottlieb stresses the importance of physical activity for people with CF and hopes that his story will inspire other young people struggling with the disease to pursue their dreams.

4. James Fraser Brown

James Fraser Brown, 10, son of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a result of routine newborn screening tests. The diagnosis came as a surprise to the Browns, who did not know they were carriers of the disease. His story is a testimony of the benefits of newborn screening for cystic fibrosis.

5. Alice Martineau

Alice Martineau was a British pop singer. She graduated with a first-class degree from King's College in London and had a relatively successful modeling and singing career. Martineau wrote and spoke often of her condition and her wait for a triple-transplant. She passed away from complications relating to CF when she was 30.

6. Travis Flores

Travis Flores, 24, wrote a children's book called "The Spider Who Never Gave Up" with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He used part of the sales from his book to donate back to the Foundation as well as CF organizations and research. He has raised over one million dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

He received a BA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and a Master's Degree from New York University (NYU). 

7. Nathan Charles

Nathan Charles, 26, is a successful rugby player from Australia. He was diagnosed with CF when he was a child. Doctors told Charles's family that he wouldn't live past his tenth birthday. Sixteen years later, Charles plays the position of hooker and has won several championships. He is thought to be the only person with CF to play a contact sport.


TravisFlores.org (2013). About Travis Flores –– Travis Flores Offical Website

The Telegraph (2003). Pop singer dies after valiant battle with cystic fibrosis 

LisaBentley.com (2014). About Lisa Bentley

DailyMail.com (2015). Nathan Charles reveals extraordinary battle with cystic fibrosis as he eyes a place in Australia's World Cup squad

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