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December 2011

Going to College with CF

College Sophomore Kasey Seymour studies international business at Loyola University.
College Sophomore Kasey Seymour studies international business at Loyola University. 

Kasey Seymour, 20, is a sophomore at Loyola University in Baltimore. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 4 years old. Between semesters, she lives with her parents, Charles and Jamie, and younger sisters, Maggie and Charlotte.

Q: What are you studying?

I’m an international business major. When I was in middle school, I had the chance to live abroad for a few years, and I was bitten by the travel bug. I’m very analytical in my thinking and, together with my love for travel, international business seemed like the right fit for me.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?

I would love to live in New York and help a company with its overseas operations.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

I get up in the morning and eat breakfast, and then I do two inhaled treatments, use my vest and take about 10 pills, which usually takes a little over an hour. This semester my classes are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and after that I do my homework. On Tuesdays I tutor children after school.

My roommates and I typically eat dinner together, and then I do my two inhaled treatments again, take another 10 pills and do the vest. Altogether, I spend about 2½ to 3 hours each day doing CF treatments.

I also spend time volunteering with my local CF Foundation chapter, and for other causes that are important to me, including the American Cancer Society and the Make a Wish Foundation.

Q: What are the challenges of attending college while managing cystic fibrosis?

The most challenging part is being sick and missing classes. I come in contact with so many people that it’s easy for me to get sick. One bad bug can land me in the hospital for several days — I have to be careful and conscious about that. The amount of work it takes to make friends and get involved on campus, coupled with everything I have to think about with CF, makes going to college more challenging. It helps that I have set up a schedule — I know what I have to do, and where I have to be, to manage everything.

Q: What has made the transition to college a little easier for you?

It’s helped a lot that I have a wonderful support system of my roommates, classmates and friends. I also chose a college close to home and my care center. When I’m sick, my mom can bring me to the doctor, and I can even continue classes while doing IVs at home.

Q. Do you tell people at school that you have cystic fibrosis?

At first, telling people on campus that I have CF was very awkward. Everyone I grew up with knew about my illness since I was diagnosed as a child, and I hadn’t really had to tell people before. But once I started telling my new college friends, I realized everyone has something that’s a little different about them. They keep an eye out for me, and it’s been a huge help.

Loyola has been very good about working with me. The university encouraged me to tell my professors that I have CF, mainly because many have grading policies that are affected by attendance — and I can’t always make it to class because sometimes I’m in the hospital or at a doctor’s appointment. So I told all of my professors, and they have been wonderful and very accepting of the fact that I have CF. It’s great because they know who I am and I can have a more personal relationship with them.

Q: What do you like best about being in college?

I love the independence. My parents and doctors definitely look at me in a different light. Seeing me make it through my freshman year, which was one of my best years health-wise, helped them feel comfortable giving me more responsibilities. I also really enjoy hanging out with my wonderful roommates — that’s one of the most exciting things about coming back after the summer.

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