Above & Beyond
Growing up with cystic fibrosis, Kellie Washburn, 23, never let the disease hold her back. Diagnosed with CF at 6 weeks old, Kellie was the only person in her family known to have CF.
Kellie Washburn, 23, pictured here with
husband Brady, runs circles around her CF.
She has her plate full as a personal trainer, volunteer at the CF Foundation and recent college graduate, but also finds time to
serve as a Key Spouse at her husband’s Air Force base.
The diagnosis was a shock to her parents, but they encouraged Kellie to live her life to the fullest, stay active and take part in any and all sports that she wanted: gymnastics, soccer, dance, basketball — you name it, she’s done it.
“My parents taught me how to take care of myself at a very young age,” says Kellie. “They never allowed me to skip my treatments and made sure that I understood the importance of physical fitness for managing my CF.”
Exercising Her Right to Live a Healthy Life
Kellie has an unwavering devotion to maintaining her health through CF treatments and has become a huge advocate of physical fitness as a means to manage the disease. She exercises every day, runs at least two to three miles every second day and is training for a half-marathon.
“I know a lot of people with CF are intimidated by exercise but I’d encourage them to gradually work up to it,” says Kellie. “Staying active helps me to breathe in deeper and clear out my lungs. I think it’s part of the reason why I am so healthy today.”
Last year, Kellie earned her Personal Trainer Certification and is now working as a personal trainer on Langley Air Force Base in Va., where her husband Brady is stationed.
Taking it to the Next Level
Kellie doesn’t let cystic fibrosis run her life. In fact, many people on the Air Force base don’t know that she has the disease.
“I don’t want to advertise that I have CF all the time. Sometimes I just want to forget about it and live a normal life,” says Kellie.
When she isn’t doing her CF treatments, exercising, working as a personal trainer or volunteering her time at the CF Foundation’s Virginia Chapter – Hampton Roads Office, Kellie serves as a Key Spouse at the base.
“Basically, I put together programs and activities to try and build a sense of community within the squadron,” she says. “So whenever someone gets deployed, I’ll contact the family, see if they need anything and ask if I can help in any way.”
And if she doesn’t already sound busy enough, she also pursued a college degree from the University of Wyoming in the midst of it all. In 2011, Kellie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.
“A lot of my lectures were on CF modulation and I did my final project on Kalydeco™ and other drugs being formulated,” she says. “It was exciting because the research that the CF Foundation and pharmaceutical companies are doing is so advanced — nothing else compares.”
Despite how busy she is, Kellie remains focused on the future and encourages all people with CF to remain hopeful and motivated.
“We’re so close to having treatments that will eradicate everything that we have to do, so we need to take care of ourselves so we can be healthy when that day comes. Soon enough all of our hard work will be worth it.”
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