Going to College with CF
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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