What if you knew your life would end soon? How would you live? How hard would you fight for more time?
Caleigh Haber lives with cystic fibrosis (CF), a progressive genetic disease that leads to chronic infections and affects more than 70,000 people worldwide. Despite significant strides in treatment for CF, there is still no cure. Today, the median life expectancy for people living with CF is thirty seven.
Fight 2 Breathe documents five years in Caleigh’s life, beginning at twenty-two when her health is at an all-time low.
She must decide if she will fight and what she must sacrifice in order to do so.Caleigh’s fight to breathe is not just the story of why we fight. It’s the story of how we fight. It’s about who we bring into the arena and the courageous conversations that happen in this space. It’s about how navigating death can bring us closer to a path for living.
"My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded." - Caleigh Haber
When we first meet Caleigh she is living in San Francisco with her mother and facing a hard reality. Unless she can get listed to receive new lungs, she is facing death. To be listed she will need to change her life completely, leave her job and passion for cooking behind and focus exclusively on monitoring her medications, treatments, and body in order to prove to the doctors and the organ board that she is worthy of an expensive and risky surgery.
Caleigh isn’t sure it is worth it. It is not only her life that will change, but the lives of her closest family members will change too. She will be asking her mother and brother to put their lives on hold to become her caretakers by helping with the daily medical appointments and scores of prescriptions. All the while, Caleigh will be living in pain, living on end-stage lungs, and knowing that her body will be forever altered by scars for feeding port tubes, new lungs, and countless surgeries.
Facing all of these facts, Caleigh finds herself hiding from her family who sit down to talk about the next steps. She feels afraid to be a burden, afraid what she'll become, and wishes she can just die and let it all be over. Her mother begs her to live; to fight.A NOTE FROM THE FILMMAKER
Keith Schwalenberg and I met at film school in 2005 and bonded over our connection to Cystic Fibrosis (CF). My brother had CF and so did Keith’s cousin. After college, we decided it would be meaningful for both of us to make a documentary capturing what it’s like to live with CF.
Three years later in 2008 we were introduced to Caleigh Haber after she received support from Big Worm’s Cystic Fibrosis Life Foundation, a non-profit founded by my brother Matt who died in the same year we met Caleigh. Immediately we knew we had found the perfect subject for a documentary about CF in this young woman who was bold, energetic, and radically transparent about facing a little-known disease.
From the start, Caleigh welcomed us into her world and opened her heart to us. We have recorded video with one hand while holding an oxygen tank pole in the other; set up shots in hospital rooms and on the shores of Hawaii; conducted interviews in surgical gowns and in conference halls. All the while we have been constantly aware of the reality that Caleigh’s time with us is limited. In truth, our own time has limits too. In February of this year, Keith died suddenly and unexpectedly. As we’ve grappled with this shock and grieved the loss of our friend, we have recognized the urgency now, more than ever, to tell Caleigh’s story. Death is a part of life for every single one of us and every single one of us gets to decide how we face that fact.
This story is not merely about one person. It’s a reflection of us — a story for all of us.
Keith & Caleigh in 2018HOW YOUR DONATION HELPS
Every single dollar donated to this campaign will go towards post-production to finish the film. Up to this point, our filmmakers have been volunteering their time and have funded the project entirely out-of-pocket. Below is an exact breakdown of how your donation will help: Editor: $12,000 Stop Motion Animator: $8,000 Sound Mixer: $3,000 Colorist: $3,000 Total: $26,000
Every additional dollar we raise will be donated to Cystic Fibrosis.
Thank you for helping us bring this story to the world.
The Fight 2 Breathe Doc Team
Joey Joyce, Ben Kukla, Caleigh Haber, Abra Sussman & Danny Grunes