34-year-old Sami Heit, pictured with her dog Benji, lives with cystic fibrosis and has had a lung transplant. May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
34-year-old Sami Heit, pictured with her dog Benji, lives with cystic fibrosis and has had a lung transplant. May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

Reason young woman started planning her own funeral

Sami Heit was a young woman when she planned her funeral, even picking the music when doctors gave her only a couple of months to live.

The now 34-year-old was in her early 20s when she was told by a doctor she'd be dead in two months, as her lungs had decreased to 17 per cent capacity after a lifetime of being ravaged by cystic fibrosis.

"I said I feel like this is it, I feel like I'm not going home," she said. "He (doctor) said to me, I'd give you two months if you can last that long.

"It wasn't hard, I'd planned my own funeral. I had it all ready to go, so that my mum and parents didn't have to do a thing.

"I'd had the music, everything all sorted, all ready. I said I wanted to be up here because I lived in Brisbane, I just wanted to be buried up here because this is home.

"I started planning my funeral and now 12½ years later there's no thoughts of a funeral."

Ms Heit had accepted the doctor's bad news, and was out at dinner one night when she received the call she would be receiving a new pair of lungs.

In 2007, at 22, she had a double lung transplant and hasn't looked back since.

"There are no time limits anymore," she said. Ms Heit, a hairdresser, is now studying for business qualifications.

She was forced to drop out of high school because it was too hard to keep up while being treated for the disease, which can include hours of daily chest physiotherapy, and medication.

"Before the transplant life was pretty miserable. I was on oxygen 24/7, a concentrator at home and a cylinder when I'd go out," she said.

"If I walked any more than 50 metres, I'd have to stop and catch my breath. It got to a point where it was too hard to even brush my teeth."

But she and her family were backed by charity Supporters of 65 Roses, a group founded by parents providing respiratory equipment and assistance for North Queensland families affected by cystic fibrosis.

"So that was a really good support network, they were really good especially for my mum," she said.

Ms Heit urged the community not to set limits for people living with the disease or see them as abnormal.

"A lot of people put us in a category of you're sick you can't do this, and actually we can," she said.

>>May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.

Originally published as Reason young woman started planning her own funeral



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