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What you need to know starting college/university with CF

If you’re on your way to post-secondary school for the first time, you’re probably overwhelmed with back to school chatter; from sales, to tips on your dorm room, to freshman week invites. But we know its unique starting post-secondary school while living with cystic fibrosis. That’s why we asked people from our community for advice:

  • “Take every opportunity that is offered to you. Getting through a post-secondary education is difficult for people without a chronic illness so never be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. School and friends are very important, but always remember to never let your health suffer because of it. Find the balance between CF, school, and having a life…it’s not an easy balance but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!” – Meaghan MacRury
  • “HAVE FUN! Make sure you keep up adherence to treatments, you might not feel the effects of missing a session immediately, but the damage will accrue. Make sure you plan enough time to have fun with friends, study, and stay healthy. It’s much better to miss out on a half hour of partying or sleep to get things done than it is to get admitted and need to miss out on weeks of life!” – Chelsea Gagnon
  • “Feel proud of your accomplishments. Making it to post-secondary education is a great achievement, chronic illness or not. Moving forward, do some research and learn about the school. Once a decision is made, be honest with the advisors at the institution and take advantage of resources available to you. There will be options and accommodations available to aid your transition. For example, as a first year student I requested a single room in residence due to my treatment schedule and my desire for privacy. The university was happy to offer this accommodation. Residence spaces, class schedules and even assessment practices may be adjusted to help ease possible pressure points, foster success and enrich your experience. Once settled, get involved in activities and immerse yourself in the experience BUT know your limitations. Don’t compromise your care/treatment. Live the experience. Be present and learn not just the academics but also about yourself.” – Alex McCombes
  • “Time/Stress management and self-care! Your health is the most important thing…..period! If you do not make your health a priority it will eventually catch up with you and all areas of your life will be affected. Even though doing physio or taking meds may be the last thing on your mind it is a small price to pay to keep yourself healthy. Also, most colleges and universities have Student Success Advisors and counsellors on staff. Seek their advice before you start feeling overwhelmed.” – Brenda Chambers-Ivey
  • Try out as many different courses and on-campus events as possible! College/university is a very unique time, and putting yourself out there to try things you’re not used to can help you make the most of it. If you have CF and are starting college/university, consider having a “tune-up” before starting your first semester in order to get things started on the right foot.” – Terra Stephenson
  • Know your limitations and respect them but also be proud that you are starting this new wonderful milestone in your life. College can be a scary and intimidating time. But it can also temp you to forego your treatments. Honour yourself and stick to them. The only one affected by missing treatments is you! And you are worth so much more! You got this far… Keep seeking higher milestones because you CAN reach them with great adherence to your healthcare!” – Timothy Vallillee

Have insights you would also like to share? To be quoted in our blog please contact Terra at tgillespie@cysticfibrosis.ca