Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joe- A CF Warrior, January 18, 1992 - February 22, 2011

Last May, Ethan an I went to a Wine Tasting Event in Boonville, California, a small community in Mendocino County, located about 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  We have some friends who started up a winery in Boonville a few years ago.  After the event, we all went back to their home for more wine and dinner. 

As I pulled up to the drive way, I noticed a young man standing in the front lawn...coughing.  This was not a "I have a cold type cough."  This was a deep, painful, and violent cough.  My first thought was "He coughs like me."  But a lot of people have coughs for a lot of reasons, so I did not think much of it. 

Later in the evening, as we were eating dinner, I noticed this young man with the cough also had clubbed fingers.  Again, clubbing can occur with other diseases, but this just struck me as more than a coincidence.  While I really wanted to ask this person about his health, I just found it too personal to approach a complete stranger on the subject.  I left the party wondering if I just met someone with CF in a totally random, non-CF related environment. 

Then, on New Years Eve, as I was leaving the gym, in walked this same person. The guy with the cough who I met in Boonville.  Here he was, a member of my small little gym.  I was beginning to feel like our meeting was meant to be.  Still not feeling comfortable saying anything directly to him, I decided to do a little investigating.  Long story and not wanting to sound like a stalker, I was able to find this person and his girlfriend on facebook. 

I sent an e-mail to the girlfriend telling her who I was, that I have CF, and I was just wondering if her boyfriend had CF too. She wrote me back confirming what I already knew in my heart to be true: Yes, he has CF.  However, he really doesn't speak openly about CF and I was under the impression he really was not interested in meeting me.  The girlfriend sounded interested in speaking with me and having someone in her life who understands CF.  As of yet, however, we have not met.

This morning, I learned that Joe Sinnaeve, the young man I met in Boonville, California with a horrible cough has passed away.  I don't know the specifics, but I do know he had CF and was only 19 years old. 

The news of his death is shocking to say the least.  For weeks now I have been thinking about how this person came into my life.  It is not everyday you just randomly meet someone with CF.  I felt a connection, like we met for a reason, a purpose.  I was disappointed he didn't want to meet me, but I tried not to take it personal.  I thought between me and the girlfriend we could ease him into meeting with me and being more open about CF. And now he is gone.  Really, a stranger to me.  Yes, I can't believe just like that he is gone...


  1. I'm sorry Colleen, things happen for a reason, they say.

  2. I didn't know joe personally, but i go to school with his friends. I was searching online to find his story, and I ran across your blog. I noticed you said that running into joe seemed as if it was meant to be, and I'd like to share with you his tesimony, and how he isn't experiencing any pain anymore. In fact he is having greatest time of his life right now. you can follow this link

    Joe's Memorial Service is being held on March 4 at 2pm at Spring Hills Community church. I'm sure you'll find it inspiring.

  3. Brittany Nicole FlintMarch 14, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    hey its Brit, I miss Joe every moment of my life and I love him SO much. I loved that you reached out and I would like to talk to you. I finally around to reading what people have written about him because before I was much too fragile. Joe was an amazing person inside and out. I have been blocking most people out since he passed away but I think I can handle meeting with people now and sharing his story. He would want me to be strong, much stronger than I have been. Thank you for writting this about him and I look forward to meeting you, hopefully you can answer my questions about CF and any questions you have or anything you want to know about Joe I would love to share. I lost my CFer and I would like to get to know you because even though Joe won the battle (he can finally breathe), a cure for CF hasn't been made and so my job isn't over. We planned on getting married, we named our future babies and pictured our lives together which I don't get to have, but I can still fight for him, I still want to fight. Not only so that no person will ever have to suffer from CF again, but also so that no one will have to lose the love of thier life, or thier child, or thier best friend to this disease ever again.