Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doogie Howser: The part about Cystic Fibrosis

So I mentioned way back here (Doogie Howser Part 1) a little bit about my interest in medicine.  And that I was destined to be a doctor even though I didn't know it for quite some time.

And I mentioned two people that were quite influential on that decision.  Well I think it is about time I wrote about them.

The first was a girl I knew in elementary school named Angie.  She was a year older than me and her brother a year younger.  We all played softball together.  Our dads were the coaches for t-ball and maybe coach pitch (can't quite remember that second one).  But in any case, all I knew was that these two siblings had something called Cystic Fibrosis or CF.  I thought it must be pretty common if they both had.  I was pretty ignorant.  Or you know - only 6 years old.  But I remember them both coughing a bit and being skinny.  But the thing that really stuck out was when Angie came to practice with an IV in her arm.  And she played.  She had a PICC line in (temporary long term iv that lets them get antibiotics - and can be done at home).  That is when I decided that being sick doesn't have to get in the way of life.  And that a kid shouldn't have to be worried about something like that.

Angie passed away from CF complications when I was 16.  I had just brought a card to school to put in the box for her, and there was no box.  And there were a lot of people crying.  And that's when I found out she had passed away the night before.

Nicole and I were baking-by cracking eggs on our head.
Fast forward 2 years-college application time.  One school asked me to write a newspaper article for some time in the future and the article was to be about me and what I have accomplished.  I wrote about finding a cure for CF.

I went to college (different one than above -but I thought that was a brilliant college admissions essay-so unique!).  A month or so into it, I walked in my dorm and my jaw dropped.  There stood someone that looked so familiar.  She said her name was Nicole and asked why I was in shock.  I said she looked like someone I once knew.  "Once knew?  What happened" "She died of a disease called CF." "What???  CF, I have CF!  Did she have fingers like mine?"

Ah, Nicole -so funny about her clubbed fingers.  She so desperately wanted normal fingers.  Nicole and I got to be good friends.  She underwent a living donor lung transplant right as we graduated from college.  She graduated at the top of the class.  Despite missing a ton while in the hospital.  She did great for awhile, and got to play her flute again and climb stairs and live on her own and have a job.  But CF is a nasty disease, and she passed away 3 years later.

But as the internet would have, I finally found Angie's little brother online.   And he is trying to kick some CF booty.

And one day, CF will have it's booty kicked right out of dodge.


  1. Thanks for writing this Gretchen. I'm in full agreement that CF is about to have its booty kicked. Yesterday was the anniversary of the transplant...what a miracle that was!

  2. Wow-I had no idea that was the exact day. I knew yesterday was around transplant time, but pretty amazing how God works and brings to mind certain things just when the time is right.