College and CF – Spring 2018 Scholarship Recipient Guest Blog

By: Holly Beasley

Approaching college while living with Cystic Fibrosis can be undoubtedly frightening. Although, great challenges bring great rewards. This is what I have come to learn during my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While I am only a sophomore at the university currently, I hope the knowledge I have gathered through my journey thus far will serve to touch others with CF.

I believe that living with Cystic Fibrosis requires honesty with yourself and others. Therefore, I must be completely honest with you regarding the college experience while living with CF. I do not aim to discourage but to instead challenge you to prevail. I think a unique strength was placed within all of us with Cystic Fibrosis to surmount any challenge that presents itself in our lives. One of these being college, if you so choose.

College with Cystic Fibrosis will certainly not always be easy. As you may know, sick days, lengthy therapy routines, and hospitalizations come with the territory. Combine all of this with the pursuit of higher education and one can become overwhelmed. Balance and prioritization become key in the life of a college student with CF. I know I have spent countless nights reading my textbook while my Vest was simultaneously shaking my lungs. There have also been times when I completed assignments while lying in my hospital bed. This is where balance comes in to play. Finding a system that makes time for both school and health care is crucial, but I want you to be certain that it is also achievable. Despite some extra setbacks and effort, I finished reading all of those pages in my textbook and an assignment has yet to be turned in late. Now, this is where prioritization becomes a major factor. In order to be an efficient student, your health must come first. If doing both becomes too taxing on your body, please remember that it is ok to give yourself a break from school. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn as a student who always strives for perfect grades. The times I have put school before my health, it has never worked in my favor. I only became sicker, causing a worse impact on my academic performance than if I would have taken the time to recover initially. Carving an hour or so out of my day for therapy when I first noticed signs of sickness would have been much easier than the eventual hospitalizations that resulted from the neglect of this fact. Always put your health first. The aspirations you are seeking through your college journey can only become a reality if you are alive and well to participate in these realized dreams.

All of this may seem rather challenging. So how does all of this ultimately become rewarding? Well, that is entirely up to you. I’d like to give some insight on how this process has rewarded me, personally. This might be the same reasoning that inspires you to pursue higher education or you might have a unique drive that motivates you. Either way, hone in on this sense of why it is all worth it.

Each day attending college rewards me because it serves as a constant reminder that I am equally as capable as anyone without Cystic Fibrosis. We are all different and many of us have encountered at least some degree of a setback in our lives. Mine just happens to be Cystic Fibrosis, but I can work with this along-side my peers. One classmate may have had a parent pass away, another battled a different disease or any other challenge that life may present. Yet, we can all come together in one classroom in order to learn and grow as equals. College allows me to reflect on the fact that the circumstances life presented me with do not define me as lesser. Instead, they exist to strengthen me so that I may become more. Life with Cystic Fibrosis has not been easy and this has never been truer than in my time at college. As I sit here now, I can still honestly say that I am happy to have Cystic Fibrosis. We are forced to realize how special we truly are when challenged by this disease. Yes, I have experienced setbacks and hard times while in college. They have not defeated me and they will not defeat you. At times, I may have to exert extra effort because of my CF. The reward of knowing that I got the job done regardless is much greater than any challenge that college or Cystic Fibrosis may introduce.

A Tribute to Everyone with Cystic Fibrosis

Dear CF Roundtable Blog readers,

I would like to share a drawing that I recently created. Occasionally, in my spare time, between four treatments a day, working, cooking food, attempting exercise, and the intermittent phone call or meet up with friends, I hone my artistic skills. In all honesty, it is maybe every few months, but when I do create something, it brings me much pleasure. Cystic fibrosis, the greatest blessing and the greatest curse in my life, obviously affects me daily yet provides the most inspiration.

Continue reading A Tribute to Everyone with Cystic Fibrosis

We Can, Right? – Guest blog from USACFA Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

By: Jacob Greene

Cystic Fibrosis is an awkward disease. Whether it’s coughing attacks in the middle of tests, the infamous CF digestive issues (for professionalism’s sake I will leave it at that, but you know what I mean), or loud treatments in the morning and at night, there are many awkward aspects to cystic fibrosis. CF’s median life expectancy is no different. Continue reading We Can, Right? – Guest blog from USACFA Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner

Pushing the envelope promising for patients

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4762046/pushing-the-envelope-promising-for-patients/

A HUNTER-based fitness study looking at the effects of interval training on children with cystic fibrosis is achieving some “outstanding” results, a local exercise physiologist says. Continue reading Pushing the envelope promising for patients

NEW Cystic Fibrosis Step-by-Step Video Series Launches Today!

Cystic Fibrosis Step-by-Step: What is Cystic Fibrosis?

The Cystic Fibrosis Step-by-Step video podcast series was created by the Boomer Esiason Foundation to help CF patients and families develop routines and guidelines to help them succeed and to answer basic questions that arise regularly.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__m7G9KEsL8&feature=youtu.be
Continue reading NEW Cystic Fibrosis Step-by-Step Video Series Launches Today!

The Women’s March on Washington

I was there.  Yes, I went.  I participated in the largest protest in the country.  And it was AMAZING!

We like to avoid politics here at CFR so I will not voice any of the reasons I went.  What I do want to do is talk about my experience as a person with CF.

Continue reading The Women’s March on Washington

Urgent call to action for future healthcare

From Sue Landgraf, Exectuive Director of CFRI

Urgent Call to Action! Congress is beginning to discuss proposals for future healthcare legislation. Proposals thus far do not include many of the protections that are contained within the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would be catastrophic for many members of the cystic fibrosis Continue reading Urgent call to action for future healthcare

Boomer Esiason Foundation’s Cystic Fibrosis Ambassador, Jerry Cahill, to Ride in 3rd Annual Bike to Breathe Event

The West Coast Bike Ride Aims to Raise Awareness for Cystic Fibrosis
and Promote the Importance of Exercise

New York and San Francisco, September 19, 2016 – The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) today announced that its cystic fibrosis (CF) ambassador, Jerry Cahill, and Emily Schaller, a CF patient who started cycling, running and Continue reading Boomer Esiason Foundation’s Cystic Fibrosis Ambassador, Jerry Cahill, to Ride in 3rd Annual Bike to Breathe Event

Top 10 Lessons On Running A Disruptive Foundation — Guest Blog By Emily Kramer-Golinkoff

Originally posted on Emily’s Entourage, on July 21, 2016
http://www.emilysentourage.org/top-10-lessons-on-running-a-disruptive-foundation/

Today’s guest blog post was written by Emily and adapted from a speech delivered at the Global Genes and Penn Orphan Disease Center’s Rare Patient Advocacy Symposium.

Like so many of you, I’ve been thrust into this role of disruptor out of desperation.

I’m learning on the job every moment of everyday. It’s a 24/7 job. It is painstaking, relentless work; there are no breaks; and then there’s this fatal disease to manage on top of it.

It’s a crazy, dizzying reality.

And so while I’m certainly no expert, I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve picked up along the way.

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#1: Stories are powerful.

You don’t realize the power of your story until you start telling it. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s a means to an end, and nothing touches people’s hearts like stories. It’s that thread of humanity that binds us together, and it’s pretty spectacular to see how much people connect and care.

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#2: It’s all about relationships.

Everything that has happened for EE, every major development, every pivotal connection, every advance in research, it’s all been because of relationships. When the test tube says Emily and not some random digital code, it matters.

So go to the labs, talk to the scientists, SHOW UP. Make it painfully personal. There’s nothing in the world more motivating.

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#3: Nobody can be a better or more tireless advocate than you.

I’m participating in a study where I’m be the first and only person in the world to try the therapy. The idea? It came from me and my mom. We have no scientific background, just a huge vested interest in the outcome, some creativity, and logic.

Of course we vetted it with tons of scientists and did all of our homework, but the original idea was all ours — ordinary, everyday Emily and Liza’s. Don’t underestimate your voice, your brain, your creativity, and your ideas.

#4: Be relentless.

When there’s a roadblock, find a creative way around and keep at it. Push and push and push and don’t accept no for an answer if you believe in what you’re fighting for.

#5: People really care, but you have to ask for them to step up and help.

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. I’m naturally a very private person, a total introvert who hates asking for things. The only thing that has kept me sharing such personal details of my life and medical journey is the outpouring of love and support that results–and seeing how people rise.

After our inaugural event in NYC, I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and THANKED ME for the opportunity to get involved.

People want to be part of something bigger. They want to do good things. They want to make impact. It’s up to us to give them the opportunities. And it takes guts.

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#6: You need a scientist champion and a respected Scientific Advisory Board.

When we first started making phone calls to labs and biotechs, people wouldn’t even answer the phone (or they promptly hung up!).

A scientist champion is your key into the scientific world and a respected Scientific Advisory Board is essential for vetting research projects and securing major gifts and grants. People need to know their money is going to reputable work.

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#7: Build a nest of trusted advisors.

It truly takes a village.

We were thrust into this role of running a foundation. We still have no idea what we’re doing, we just know what we want and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

By building a nest of advisors, we draw on the expertise of so many different, brilliant people and pull them onboard.

We’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the most remarkable individuals. We call them our guardian angels and our progress is a testament to — and totally dependent on — them

#8: Don’t underestimate the value of YOUR creativity and ideas.

Sometimes the greatest innovation comes from outside of the biomedical institution.

Nobody has a bigger vested interest in your future. Desperation spurs creativity and innovation. You don’t need a PhD to have great ideas. Believe in them and tenaciously pursue them.

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#9: Digital technology is your best friend.

Technology is democratizing; content is king. Use technology to spread your content far and wide. The world is at your fingertips and they’re eager to hear your story. Make it concise. Make it compelling. Make it easily sharable.

#10: Know what you want.

You need a clearly defined research goal to raise money and effectively mobilize a community. Do your homework, identify the leading researchers, labs, biotechs, pharma and all the key stakeholders, and bring them together. It’s essential to draw on their expertise to clearly articulate your research strategy.

People want to fund good work, but they need to know the targets. And so do you! Otherwise, your wheels will be spinning, and let’s be honest, we don’t have time or energy to waste.

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Emily’s Entourage is a work in progress. We are learning as we go. We constantly have to realign, refocus on our end goal, and troubleshoot — and it is HARD.

I think about EE every second of the day, with every breath I take. Literally.

What’s next? How do we grow? How do we make the research go faster? How do we add more revenue streams? How do we make the organization sustainable? How do I balance running EE and managing my health?

So many questions. So much to do. So little time — with a disease that rages on and robs me of my life, my energy, my breath.

I feel the crunch of time, the terror of disease progression, ALL the time. And that is the propeller.

At Emily’s Entourage, we pledge to keep at this, with this same vigor until there is a cure for EVERYONE with CF. And then, we pledge to take these lessons learned and apply them to another disease, to help another disease community get to the finish line. That is our greatest wish. That would be our dream come true.

Continue reading Top 10 Lessons On Running A Disruptive Foundation — Guest Blog By Emily Kramer-Golinkoff