Student View

CCSS

R.1, R.3, R.4, R.6, R.7, W.1, SL.1, L.4. L.6

Fighting for Every Point—and Every Breath

Christian is one of the best 12-year-old basketball players in California. He also has cystic fibrosis, a dangerous disease that makes it hard for him to breathe. What’s that like? Read on to find out. 

Gregg Segal

    Every single morning, Christian Collins wakes up an hour earlier than his friends and puts on a special vest. 

    Why? He’s not trying to make a fashion statement. His life actually depends on it. 

    Christian has a serious disease called cystic fibrosis (CF). It causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in his lungs. The mucus can cause infections and makes it hard to breathe.

    That’s where the vest comes in. It’s hooked up to a machine. When Christian turns the machine on, the vest inflates. Then it vibrates like crazy. The vibrations help loosen the mucus in his lungs, so he can breathe better. 

    It’s one of the many steps Christian takes every day to fight his disease.

    Every morning, Christian Collins wakes up an hour earlier than his friends and puts on a special vest.

    Why? Because his life depends on it.

    Christian has a serious disease called cystic fibrosis (CF). It causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in his lungs. The mucus makes it hard to breathe. It can cause infections too.

    The vest helps. It’s hooked up to a machine. When Christian turns the machine on, the vest inflates. Then it vibrates. The vibrations help loosen the mucus in his lungs.

    It’s one of the many things Christian does to fight his disease.

    Every single morning, Christian Collins wakes up an hour earlier than his friends and puts on a special vest. 

    Why does he do this? Christian isn’t trying to make a fashion statement. His life actually depends on it. 

    Christian has a serious disease called cystic fibrosis (CF), which causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in his lungs. The mucus can cause infections and makes it difficult to breathe.

    That’s where the vest comes in. It’s hooked up to a machine. When Christian turns the machine on, the vest inflates and vibrates like crazy. The vibrations help loosen the mucus in his lungs so he can breathe better. 

    It’s one of the many steps Christian takes every day to fight his disease.

Living With CF

    How did Christian get CF? It isn’t a disease you “catch”—you’re born with it. CF has no cure, and it usually gets worse as 
a person gets older. 

    To stay healthy, Christian uses his vest at least twice a day. He also breathes through a tube that delivers medicine as a mist. And he takes more than a dozen pills daily. 

    Still, he coughs a lot. His coughing fits can be so bad that he has to step out of class at school. That happens about once a day. 

    CF also makes Christian more likely to get ill. Last year, he had to go to the hospital after he got a dangerous infection called pneumonia. He was so sick that he missed almost a month of school.

    How did Christian get CF? It isn’t a disease you “catch.” You’re born with it. CF has no cure. It usually gets worse as you get older.

    To stay healthy, Christian uses his vest at least twice a day. He breathes through a tube that delivers medicine as a mist. And he takes more than 12 pills a day.

    Still, he coughs a lot. His coughing fits can be so bad that he has to step out of class. That happens about once a day.

    CF also makes Christian more likely to get sick. Last year, he had to go to the hospital after he got a dangerous infection called pneumonia. He missed almost a month of school.

    How did Christian get CF? It isn’t a disease you “catch”—you’re born with it. CF has no cure, and it usually gets worse as a person gets older. 

    To stay healthy, Christian uses his vest at least twice a day. He also breathes through a tube that delivers medicine as a mist, and he takes more than a dozen pills daily. 

    Still, he coughs a lot—and about once a day, he has a coughing fit so intense that he has to step out of class. 

    CF also increases Christian’s chances of becoming ill. Last year, he had to go to the hospital after he got a dangerous infection called pneumonia. He was so sick that he missed almost a month of school.

A Regular Kid

    Christian faces some big challenges. But in many ways, he’s just like every other kid. He’s talkative and funny and one of the tallest kids in his grade. He loves eating barbecued ribs and hanging out with his dog, Joker.

    Christian’s favorite thing to do is to play basketball. He has been playing since he was 5 years old. It’s not easy, because his lungs don’t work as well as other people’s. Imagine running up and down the court while breathing through a straw. “I get tired a lot faster than everyone else,” he says. “That just means I have to work a lot harder.” 

    During basketball games, Christian uses a device called an inhaler. It sprays medicine into his lungs. But sometimes, he still can’t catch his breath and has to take a break. “My chest feels all tight and clogged,” he says. “I’m trying so hard to breathe that sometimes I just start sobbing.”

    Christian faces some big challenges. But in many ways, he’s like any other kid. He’s talkative. He’s funny. He’s one of the tallest kids in his grade. He loves barbecued ribs. He loves his dog, Joker.

    He also loves playing basketball. He’s been playing since he was 5. It’s hard, because his lungs don’t work very well. Imagine running up and down the court while breathing through a straw. “I get tired a lot faster than everyone else,” he says. “That just means I have to work a lot harder.”

    During games, Christian uses a device called an inhaler. It sprays medicine into his lungs. Still, he sometimes can’t catch his breath and has to take a break. “My chest feels all tight and clogged,” he says. “I’m trying so hard to breathe that sometimes I just start sobbing.”

    Christian faces some major challenges—but in many ways, he’s just like every other kid. He’s talkative and funny and one of the tallest kids in his grade. He loves eating barbecued ribs and hanging out with his dog, Joker.

    Christian’s favorite activity is playing basketball. He has been playing since he was 5 years old. It’s not easy, because his lungs don’t work as well as other people’s. Imagine running up and down the court while breathing through a straw. “I get tired a lot faster than everyone else,” he says. “That just means I have to work a lot harder.” 

    During basketball games, Christian uses a device called an inhaler to spray medicine into his lungs. Still, he sometimes can’t catch his breath and has to take a break. “My chest feels all tight and clogged,” he says. “I’m trying so hard to breathe that sometimes I just start sobbing.”

The Big Moment

    Last year, Christian was picked to play on a travel basketball team. He was thrilled. He knew it was a chance to prove that CF can’t stop him from competing with the top players.  

    Christian’s big moment came in March 2019. His team was playing one of the best teams in the country. If Christian’s team won, they would go to the championship. 

    With a few seconds left, the score was tied. Christian got the ball—and he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t worry about his lungs. He drove down the court quickly and tossed in the game-winning shot. 

    Christian was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the game. Afterward, his team won the championship. The next week, his name was included on a list of the top 40 players his age in California. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m ranked,’” Christian says. 

    Last year, Christian was picked to play on a travel team. He was thrilled. It was a chance to prove that CF can’t stop him from competing with the top players.  

    Christian’s big moment came in March 2019. His team was playing one of the best teams in the country. If Christian’s team won, they would go to the championship.

    With a few seconds left, the score was tied. Christian got the ball, and he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t worry about his lungs. He drove down the court and made the game-winning shot.

    Christian was named Most Valuable Player of the game. His team went on to win the championship. The next week, his name was on a list of the top 40 players his age in California. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m ranked,’” he says. 

    Last year, Christian was thrilled when he was picked to play on a travel basketball team. He knew it was a chance to prove that CF can’t stop him from competing with the top players.  

    Christian’s big moment came in March 2019, when his team was playing one of the best teams in the country. If Christian’s team won, they would go to the championship. 

    With a few seconds left, the score was tied. Christian got the ball—and he didn’t hesitate or worry about his lungs. He drove down the court quickly and tossed in the game-winning shot. 

    Christian was named Most Valuable Player of the game, and his team went on to win the championship. The following week, his name was included on a list of the top 40 players his age in California. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m ranked,’” Christian recalls. 

Courtesy of family 

All Hooked Up  
Christian spends an hour a day using a machine that loosens the mucus in his lungs.

Teaching Others

    Sometimes, the kids at school ask Christian insensitive questions. They have asked if he’s going to die soon and why he coughs so much. Once in a while, someone is just plain mean. 

    Not long ago, Christian got in a fight with a classmate who said something cruel about his illness. Both boys were sent to the school counselor—who asked Christian to tell the boy about living with CF. So Christian explained about his special vest, the hospital stays, and his many medicines. 

    “While I was talking, the other boy started crying,” Christian said. “He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.’”

    Now Christian wants you to know: People who may seem weak can be so much stronger than you think. 

    Sometimes, other kids ask Christian insensitive questions. They’ve asked if he’s going to die soon and why he coughs so much. Once in a while, someone is just plain mean.

    Christian once got in a fight with a classmate who said something cruel about his illness. The school counselor asked Christian to tell the boy about living with CF. Christian did. He explained about his special vest, the hospital stays, and all the medicine.

    “While I was talking, the other boy started crying,” Christian says. “He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.’”

    Now Christian wants you to know: People who may seem weak can be stronger than you think.

    Sometimes the kids at school ask Christian insensitive questions, like whether he’s going to die soon and why he coughs so much. Once in a while, someone is just plain mean. 

    Not long ago, Christian got into a fight with a classmate who said something cruel about his illness. Both boys were sent to the school counselor—who asked Christian to tell the boy about living with CF. Christian explained about his special vest, the hospital stays, and his numerous medicines. 

    “While I was talking, the other boy started crying,” Christian remembers. “He kept saying, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.’”

    Now Christian wants you to know: People who may seem weak can be so much stronger than you think. 

ACTIVITY: 
Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “Fighting for Every Point—and Every Breath.” Now it’s time to do this activity.

You’ve just read “Fighting for Every Point—and Every Breath.” Now it’s time to do this activity.

You’ve just read “Fighting for Every Point—and Every Breath.” Now it’s time to do this activity.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

Tip: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result.

What to do: To understand how one cause can have many effects, answer the questions below using details from the article. We did the first one for you. 

What to do: To understand how one cause can have many effects, answer the questions below using details from the article. We did the first one for you. 

What to do: To understand how one cause can have many effects, answer the questions below using details from the article. We did the first one for you. 

The Cause:

Christian was born with a disease called cystic fibrosis (CF).

Effect 1: 
CF causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in Christian’s lungs.

Effect 2:
Hint: What can happen to Christian because of the mucus in his lungs?

Effect 3:
Hint: What must Christian do to stay healthy?

Effect 4:
Hint: How does having CF affect Christian on the basketball court?

Effect 5:
Hint: How do kids at school treat Christian sometimes?

Effect 1: 
CF causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in Christian’s lungs.

Effect 2:
Hint: What can happen to Christian because of the mucus in his lungs?

Effect 3:
Hint: What must Christian do to stay healthy?

Effect 4:
Hint: How does having CF affect Christian on the basketball court?

Effect 5:
Hint: How do kids at school treat Christian sometimes?

Effect 1: 
CF causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in Christian’s lungs.

Effect 2:
Hint: What can happen to Christian because of the mucus in his lungs?

Effect 3:
Hint: What must Christian do to stay healthy?

Effect 4:
Hint: How does having CF affect Christian on the basketball court?

Effect 5:
Hint: How do kids at school treat Christian sometimes?

Back to top
videos (1)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Lesson Plan (2)
Lesson Plan (2)
Leveled Articles (2)
Leveled Articles (2)