Sibling singers, Ali (top) and Christina. Cystic fibrosis is a chronic, genetic disease that afflicts the lungs and digestive system of 30,000 individuals in the U.S. alone, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Talented singing duo and sisters Ali and Christina Christensen, respectively 22 and 15, are just two of these people. Singing from an early age, the twosome performed together for the first time under less than auspicious circumstances, at their older sister April’s funeral, after she succumbed to the disease in 2009.
Best known as finalists on season five of NBC’s America’s Got Talent the following year, Ali and Christina continue to share their gifts with the public with their new, awareness-raising single “Something About Me” (available for download on www.CFvoice.com), about truly “living” with cystic fibrosis. As they live their creative dreams, they hope they can encourage others to do the same. Healthline recently spoke with older sister, Ali about battling cystic fibrosis, her new single ‘Something About Me,’ and how she maintains a healthy sense of optimism despite her life-altering disease.
Ali, did you feel different from other children, growing up?
Growing up it didn’t seem different to me at all because my older siblings had it, so it was just a routine for my family. And so honestly I never felt different. The earliest memory I had was probably going to the school nurse before lunchtime and taking my medicine. People at school would be like, ‘Why do you do that? Why do you have to see the nurse?’ And so that was my first taste of being different. But it never bothered me. I never remember going through a phase where I was distraught about the fact that I had to go to the nurse before lunch.
Were there times that you were treated differently for it?
Everyone knew and no one really treated me differently, which was really good for me and I appreciated that.
What is the toughest thing about living with cystic fibrosis?
The thing that is pretty tough for me is remembering to take all my medicine, because I’m definitely on a schedule. Every time we eat we have to take medicine and that’s a lot of pills to take each day. Also, we have breather treatments and it’s really important to keep up on our sleep and keep our bodies healthy and to remember to eat as healthy as we can and to eat a lot of food so we can maintain a good weight, so it is different.
Some of my friends, now that I’m an older girl, will say, ‘You’re so lucky, you can eat anything you want and you don’t even gain weight.’ I started thinking, ‘Oh, that might be a perk,’ but it’s not like I try not to gain weight; that’s just one of the side effects.
You have such an optimistic take on living with cystic fibrosis. After losing your older sister to the disease, how do you maintain that hopefulness?
Well, I have always been blessed with an optimistic personality. Naturally, I just feel that way about life but my family has been an amazing example. Everyone keeps their head held high and no matter what happens we try to make the best out of it. What’s really helped me keep going is my love for singing, that I’ve been able to do that and to be able to share that talent with other people, despite my illness. It’s been great that we’ve had the opportunity to sing—and that actually helps keep our lungs strong. So it’s a double-edged sword; it works both ways.
I was so impressed with your new video for “Something About Me.” At what point did you know that you wanted to make a career out of singing?
We have just always loved to sing. My mom’s a singing teacher and so music has been a huge part of our lives. And on a whim, we decided to audition for America’s Got Talent. So we didn’t expect to go very far but we ended up making it to the Top 10, which was amazing.
One thing, which inspired us to write this song, is Piers Morgan would tell us that there is something about us. That was always so good to hear, so we took that to heart and ended up writing a song called ‘Something About Me.’ So he inspired the song and we’re just excited to share that message with other people and for other people to hear our music and appreciate what we do.
Can you see getting a record deal in the near future?
Well, that would definitely be the goal. I think we’re so fortunate to be living our dream. I mean, to write this song with producers in Nashville and have it sponsored by a big company like Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation has been amazing, so we feel like we’re living our dream already. We just want to spread our message of hope and inspiration with people, and this has been a great outlet to be able to do that.
Would you offer a message of hope and inspiration to some of our readers, who might be battling cystic fibrosis?
I would say it’s just so important to take care of yourself and to listen to your body. Personally, I get really exhausted, and sometimes it’s not the most fun thing to have to go and take a nap in the middle of the day. So that’s something I’ve had to learn. But I’d also tell them to believe in themselves and not let their disability get in the way. I would tell them to focus on the ‘ability’ in disability. So I just hope that everyone can listen to this song, which shares that message, and realize there’s something about them. There’s something more to them than the obstacle they’re facing, whether it’s cystic fibrosis or any other kind of illness or any other obstacle in their life.