For many students, going to college can be challenging. The change in environment, a new schedule, classes, homework, extracurricular activities and social life can be difficult to balance. Add in care and treatment time for a chronic disease like cystic fibrosis, and that juggling act becomes even more complex.
Just ask Rachel Kinney, a rising junior majoring in computer science at Johns Hopkins University.
One of the most difficult challenges Rachel faces as a college student is navigating her new-found independence. For the first time in her life, she is fully responsible for her own treatments and therapies.
“Like every other college student, I wake up bright and early, attend classes, study and prepare for tests. Within all that, I need to fit in all of my treatments for cystic fibrosis,” said Rachel, who spends between two and three hours daily completing CF therapies. “It's so easy to say I'll do it later, or I'll do it in the morning, or I'll double up down the line.”
Rachel knows skipping treatments can lead to serious health problems and hospitalizations, so to help her stay on top of her game, she surrounds herself with friends, professors and dorm mates who all have her best interests in mind.
“All my friends know I have CF. There's no hiding anything from them, and they are so supportive,” Rachel said. “Having that support is absolutely crucial, especially in college.”
In addition to a strong support system made up of her peers and professors, Rachel also plans on registering with her school's Office of Student Disability Services. The program helps ensure a fair learning environment where students with health challenges like CF get the accommodations they need to have a positive educational experience.
Hear more about Rachel and how she manages CF in college by watching the video below.