Anna Kampas looks like a typical 16-year-old. She loves sports and excels at soccer, skiing and track. Unlike most teenagers, though, Anna begins her day at 5:15 a.m. Before she can even begin thinking about school, sports or boys, she must complete 30 minutes of cystic fibrosis therapies and take dozens of pills just to stay healthy.
For Anna, there is no compromising. Sticking to her health care routine is a must. "My treatments and therapies are my number-one priority," said Anna, who was diagnosed with CF when she was an infant. "I want to live a long, healthy life and I know doing my treatments will help me."
For many with CF, the burden of treatments can be a real challenge, but Anna faces that challenge head on. She began taking full responsibility for her own treatments and therapies when she was in middle school.
This is no small feat. Anna's health regimen consists of a mechanical vest that loosens mucus from her lungs, nebulizers, inhalers, and dozens of medications. On a regular day, Anna spends more than an hour completing treatments, in the morning and again in the evening. When she is sick, she completes treatments every four hours-even through the night. Still, she rarely misses a step in her routine.
"She's always been that way-she's incredibly independent," said Anna's mother, Stephanie. "She was changing her own feeding tube at 6 years old, not because we asked her to, but because she wanted to learn how."
One Life to Live
Anna credits her parents and her care team at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for empowering her to take charge of her own health at an early age. She says they taught her just how important it is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“I only have one life and I'm going to live it to the fullest,” Anna said. “If my choice is to be sick all the time or spend a few hours each day doing treatments, I'm going to choose the treatments.”
Anna's care team has also inspired her to dream big. After graduating from high school, she has her sights set on going into health care, and hopes to become a physician's assistant.
“My care team is like family. I'm always so inspired by them,” Anna said. “I really want to go into medicine and help others, the way my doctors and nurses have helped me.”