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Helping Lyla Run for Touchdowns

Lyla and Dr. Chaney resized

Lyla loves flag football. She plays on a nationally ranked team for girls in middle school. “I play center, or hiker,” she says. “I’m on offense and run for touchdowns. My teammates call me ‘crazy legs.’”

Onlookers might not believe Lyla, who outruns many other players, has cystic fibrosis. It’s a genetic disease that causes lung infections and difficulty breathing. At age 4, Lyla struggled with asthma-like symptoms, but her condition went undiagnosed. “Doctors didn’t seem to believe there was anything wrong,” she says. “Once we started going to Children’s National, my new doctors were right on it.”

Treatment included respiratory therapy, a supplement of pancreatic enzymes, and when her weight dropped dangerously low, a feeding tube. She has had numerous hospital stays, but feels that she always comes out stronger. “Everyone at Children’s National made me feel safe,” she says. “They always made sure that I was comfortable and that I knew what was going to happen whether it was with my lungs, getting IVs or having a feeding tube put in.”

This care has enabled Lyla to thrive as an athlete. Her Children’s National team also taught her how to stay mentally and physically tough. “My mom says, she doesn’t know where I’d be today without my pulmonologist Dr. Hollis Chaney,” says Lyla, who continues regular check-ups with Dr. Chaney and does nebulized therapy, or breathing treatments, daily ― at home and on the go.

Lyla recently traveled to Las Vegas where her team won a national flag football championship sponsored by the NFL. She plays travel basketball, soccer and flag football almost year round.  “I am lucky to be able to be a part of team sports,” she says. “We have so much fun out there.”