Cystic fibrosis is a scary thing. But as with all scary things, you can either use your fear to grow, learn and find encouragement, or you can run from your fear and let it consume you. I decided at a young age to take the advantages of my CF (yes, I said advantages) and use them for my benefit.
I am a strong believer in making the best of everything life throws at you. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade -- or dream big and create an album titled "Lemonade" like Beyoncé. I've found that by believing in yourself and staying positive through the hospital stays, PICC lines and surgeries that most people with CF have experienced, your life and the differences you make are completely up to you.
I am currently 21 years old and attending the University of Memphis, where I am a proud tiger and sister of Phi Mu. I have not let CF stop me in any way, thus far. I am an upcoming senior majoring in journalism with a concentration in public relations. For the next step of my educational career, I will be attending law school. I do not say I "might" be attending law school, due to the same determination I have about my health. I WILL be healthy and I WILL be a lawyer one day.
Growing up, I was often a patient at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for the typical "tune ups" that most people with CF have on a monthly or yearly basis. Although I often saw children who suffered from similar health issues, I noticed that many of them did not want to go home like I so badly did. I couldn't understand why. All my toys, my dog, my own bedroom and my playroom were at home. My friends could play with me and sleep over at home. I couldn't fathom why they were alone or why their parents couldn't stay with them all the time, like my incredibly loving mother did with me as my dad worked nonstop to provide for us.
As I grew older, my mother explained to me that some children didn't have parents to take them home, while other parents had to work the entire time their child was in the hospital simply to afford the bills. Some children even had homes with mold and mildew that caused their breathing issues to get worse, which was sometimes the reason for their hospital visits in the first place.
As I learned of these extremely unfortunate situations facing such young children, I knew I wanted to help one day -- I just wasn't sure how. Then I watched the movie "Legally Blonde," and as cliché as it sounds, I wanted to be Elle Woods … only I wanted to help the children I had seen at Le Bonheur.
I have always had the type A, take-control personality, which I truly believe has gotten me to where I am today. By staying organized, preparing for anything and having some fun while doing it, CF has taught me what is important in life, such as how to value true friendships and love your family. I truly believe every little step I take is preparing me for my future. As I lie in bed at night and think about my future in law school, I can't help but think that without CF and the experiences its given me, I might not be where I am now. It's hard work, dedication and my refusal to use my CF as an excuse that have brought me this far.
I will leave you with my favorite quote: "How badly you want something dictates how hard you'll work at it." Whether that means working in a routine of medicines and treatments for your CF, giving a voice to children who don't have one or dropping the next hottest album like Beyoncé's "Lemonade," work hard and know that not everyone can handle what you do on a daily basis.