Remembering a Best Friend for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

Loving. Giving. People-Person. Fun. Unstoppable. Thoughtful. Kind.

Jayme Lease was one of our best friends. She had a fervor for living each day to its fullest and enjoying everything she did. And she brought others along for the ride! She and her brother, Troy, lived with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). It was a part of their everyday lives, but it didn’t define who they were. I dedicate this post to her and her brother’s memory. I didn’t know Troy as much, but those who did will share more about him. The characteristics listed above are some things that defined Jayme.

Thank you to Jayme’s mom, Jacqueline (Jacque), for sharing your story with me and allowing me to tell it to our ABQ Mom community and beyond.

Remembering a Best Friend for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

Background & Diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis

Jacque and Tim met at a 7-Eleven in Albuquerque and were married in 1969. They had three children. Randy (1970), Troy (1978) and Jayme (1981). Randy was and is healthy. Troy had trouble gaining weight and eating, so they thought he might have a stomach disorder. At 6 weeks, doctors suspected Cystic Fibrosis. A sweat gland test confirmed he did in fact have CF. Jacque and Tim didn’t know what this was. Sometimes this disease was mistaken for asthma or pneumonia. Jayme was tested for CF after her birth, and it was confirmed that she had it as well.

It turns out that both Jacque and Tim had the specific non-functioning CF gene necessary in both parents for a child to have CF. It is important to catch it early, so the child can gain weight and have breathing and other treatments.

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.” There is an increase of thick mucus that leads to bacteria causing infection and inflammation. It interferes with the ability to release digestive enzymes that help break down food and nutrients. It can also cause liver disease and have other effects and complications.

Treatment includes wearing a vibrating vest to loosen and move the mucus to prevent pneumonia, taking enzymes to help digest food, countless doctor’s visits, medication, and more. Activity and sports are encouraged also.

Living with Cystic Fibrosis

Both Troy and Jayme were in and out of the hospital most of their lives. It was a very trying period for Jacque and Tim. Part of that time was in Denver, and part of it was in Albuquerque where Jayme was born. Jacque and Tim had support from family and the staff and doctors at the Denver General Hospital and UNM Hospital. Jayme and Troy were treated like other children their age. They participated in sports, school, cub scouts, brownies, etc. Sometimes when it was hard to keep up, they didn’t complain or feel like they couldn’t do the same as others.

Troy’s Passing

On February 4, 2001, at the age of 22, Troy passed. It was almost exactly one year after Jayme, our friends, and I graduated from Manzano High School. This was very hard on the family, particularly for Jayme.

Jayme’s Transplant & Passing

Doctors eventually told Jayme she needed a lung transplant. This was when her daughter was under a year old. She received her transplant in 2008 in Denver where she lived with her parents during the first year after her transplant. We were all very happy she got to celebrate her one-year birthday of her new lungs.

But her body then began to have chronic rejection and Jayme passed on December 12, 2009. She was 28 years old. Her daughter, Karlee, was four. Karlee was a fun-loving little girl. She was a ball of energy. Jayme loved being active with her in different ways, whether it was riding horses, ballet, or pool. She reminds me of a little Jayme, and we see her mom in her in so many ways today.

Both Jayme and Troy lived into their twenties. During this time, most children with CF did not live until puberty age. They both beat the odds. They lived with it and fought it to the very end.

Memories from Friends & Family

They left wonderful memories, and their lives taught us so much.

Jacque (Jayme and Troy’s mom) shares:

“Troy was well-liked by all and was special. I remember he wanted to play soccer so bad. I didn’t think it would be good for him. On one of our doctor’s visits, he asked the doctor about playing soccer. He thought it was a good idea and stated it probably would be good for his lungs. Troy asked the doctor to please tell me it was ok. He played for several years and really enjoyed it. Troy didn’t finish school because of his health and quit at the age of 16 and worked in our family business, not missing a day. He bought his own home and was always bright and cheerful and had a smile on his face.

Both Troy and Jayme never complained about their health and wanted to be treated like everyone else.  Jayme’s dream was to marry and have a child. They both cared for others and enjoyed their lives.”

Heather shares:

“Jayme was one of my dearest and closest friends. Her family was like a second family to me. She was very close with her older brother Troy, who also had CF.  His was much more advanced at an earlier age. He sadly passed away from the disease before she did.  The three of us shared many hours joking around, watching movies, or playing pool together. We also went to horse shows together and had lots of sleepovers. We even made her treatments fun because after she would wear her vibrating vest, she’d make me wear it too, and we laughed and laughed trying to talk with it on.

By the time college rolled around, we were living hundreds of miles apart, but I would always make plans with her every time I went home to visit. It was during this time Jayme had the chance to fall in love and to have a beautiful daughter. She was a remarkable mother.

The three qualities that come to mind when I think of Jayme besides her beautiful heart are her loyalty, strength, and perseverance. She was the most loyal friend I have ever had. I think all of her friends would agree. She has touched us all with her short time on this earth. She had to go through numerous treatments a day, take countless pills, live in the hospital for very long stays, endure numerous operations, be tethered to oxygen, and yet she never complained or felt sorry for herself.  And she didn’t want you to feel sorry for her either. Jayme was wiser than her years, a true old kind soul. The kind to have it all figured out. The kind that leaves us far too soon. I love her and miss her dearly.”

Sarah shares:

“I knew Jayme for about 15 years. We met in eighth grade. She was the most positive person I had ever met, always looking for the good in people and life. She was silly, fun, and enjoyed living! I remember hanging out at her house and her yellow truck. I also remember a trip to the movies with her to see one of the Final Destinations.”

Emma shares:

“Jayme Lease was a beautiful person, both inside and out. I met Jayme in elementary school, and we became fast friends bonding over tetherball. Jayme’s brother Troy liked teasing us on a regular basis, as did her dad Tim. Troy was always laughing, and if I’m not mistaken, football was his jam. From what I can remember about Troy, he was more reserved than Jayme was, but he was a fun-loving guy. Even though he enjoyed teasing his sister (and me), they loved each other, and I know Jayme really felt it when Troy passed away. I will never forget the day she called me to tell me about his passing. I know how much it hurt her to lose her brother so young.

What I remember most about Jayme was her infectious laugh and smile. She loved life, and she loved people. She knew she had a terminal illness but that did NOT get her down. If anything, it fueled the fire inside her because she set out to achieve certain goals and she did. One of those goals was having a child. Her daughter Karlee, who has Jayme’s beautiful smile, is the greatest legacy of Jayme and it brings me pure joy to see her grow up and love life as her mom would want her to.

I will always remember that when she got her lung transplant and I heard her voice over the phone, she sounded different. That was the voice of Jayme with healthy lungs and she sounded so happy. I am so grateful she got that opportunity. But above all, I am just grateful that I had the opportunity to know and love this beautiful person–and that she loved me back! She made me feel so special. I wish she were still here with us physically, but I know God needed her with Him–so until we are all united again, I love watching her daughter grow up and remembering all the fun times with our sweet Jayme!”

Georgia shares:

“I met Jayme through Elizabeth at church. She was younger than me, but we became fast friends. A favorite memory probably is the time we went shopping at the mall and had dinner afterwards. We shared stories, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company. Jayme was genuine, kind and generous, fun-spirited, and loved her little girl with all her heart. I think of her often. I miss her.”

Elizabeth shares:

“Would you like to come over for dinner? Go to a movie? Or “How about this concert?” These were a couple of questions she often asked. Jayme was the best host and fun companion no matter what we decided.

I first met Jayme in middle school, and we slowly became closer, especially in our high school Senior year and after. We got to see each other fall in love. I was able to see her have her daughter, Karlee, and she saw me pregnant with our first child.

I learned many things from our friendship and her life, and I keep a picture of her and her daughter on my desk. It reminds me to strive to be a good friend, make the most of the opportunities that God is giving us, and of how quickly life can change.”

Remembering a Best Friend for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

I’m very thankful to have been a part of Jayme’s life and that I can still keep in touch with her mom, daughter, and the friends we have in common. Her daughter, Karlee, is beautiful inside and out and reminds us of her mom in so many ways. She is graduating high school this month! She will major in Genetics, which is inspired by her mom.

Remembering a Best Friend for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month
Karlee, 2024

Here are some more of Jayme’s characteristics. God willing, I can exhibit some of these as well. I already know her daughter does and is making an impact just like her mom did!

Outgoing. Relationship-Orientated. Energetic. Hospitable. Full of Ideas. A True Friend.

Encouragement & Resources

May your memories of loved ones who have moved on from this Earth keep you smiling and practicing things you learned from them. There is amazing ongoing support for those with Cystic Fibrosis and their family/friends. Please reach out to these various organizations if you need support or would like more information.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Boomer Esiason Foundation

Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute

Jennifer L. Taylor-Cousar, MD, MSCS, ATSF – She was the doctor that took care of Jayme in Albuquerque. She left to go to the National Jewish Health Hospital in Denver and has traveled all over the world with lectures and information. She is an advocate for equality in healthcare.

Dr. Taylor-Cousar helped create The Wright Screening Tool – an online tool to help people (especially people of color) self-identify symptoms of CF and get the treatment they need.

And finally, a few keywords just for those who knew Jayme to bring a smile to our face: *Orchestra *Yummy snacks *Lemons and pepperoncini peppers *Jake the pig *Miniature horses *Modern security *Baking cookies *Kevin Chesney *Taylor Swift *Cowboys *Gift giver *Halloween *Travel *Tuna noodle casserole *Twilight *A Walk to Remember *Music *Movies *Swimming *Shopping *JCPenney Salon *Bible studies *Ariel *Reading *Rodeos *Disney

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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