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CF Care: Top Tips for Postsecondary Students with CF

Moving away from home to go to college or university is hard enough on its own; having cystic fibrosis (CF) can make it even harder. Students must delicately balance their treatments, classes, clubs/activities and social life, all while finding time in the day for coursework and sleep. To help ease this transition, we’ve got some great tips from people who have been in your shoes:

Residence

  • If you’ll be living on-campus, request a single room for hygienic purposes (an ensuite washroom wouldn’t hurt either)
  • Depending on your dietary requirements, you can request kitchen access if the meal plans don’t provide enough options (as in all-you-can-eat)
  • Keep a mini-fridge in your room for refrigerated medicine as well as a storage system with drawers to organize your medication, nebulizers and sterilization equipment
  • Check to make sure there’re enough outlets as well as windows that open if you nebulize medicine

Education

  • Meet with the campus disability office to register and ask how they can help when you cannot attend class (i.e. note takers, exam accommodation, how to communicate with professors, etc.)
  • Consider a reduced course load or part-time study to make sure you don’t become overwhelmed between your treatments and coursework
  • Try to schedule classes around your treatments and avoid early morning classes altogether to allow time for them

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Health

  • Take it easy at parties. Alcohol weakens your immune system – try to enjoy it responsibly
  • Join an intramural sport team or find a gym buddy to remind you to stay active
  • If you’re moving far away from home, consider finding a CF clinic, pharmacy or doctor closer to school or ask your doctor to send standing orders for routine procedures
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you everywhere – you will constantly be surrounded by people

Finally, remember that you can retake a class or arrange accommodations for your coursework, but you cannot make up your health. Working with your doctors, the school’s disability office as well as your professors can help you adjust to any hiccups you might face along the way. Avoid skipping your treatments at all costs – going to college or university is a great experience and keeping up with your treatments will help you get the most out of it. Above all else, have fun!

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