When a child faces a chronic illness, there are many challenges to overcome. For Emily, a student at Saydel High School, she has faced those challenges to become an inspiration to many.
When Emily was 22-months old, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a chronic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas. To manage the disease, daily treatments are required in order to keep Emily out of the hospital. Those treatments can take upwards to three hours a day. Even with those treatments, there are times when Emily needs a "tune-up" requiring up to three weeks at Blank Children's Hospital - anywhere from two to five times a year.
Because of how CF affects the pancreas, Emily has additional challenges to face. It is difficult for Emily to gain weight. She has to use a special g-tube in her stomach to intake high-calorie feedings through - taking even more time out of her day.
Despite the extensive treatments, Emily does not let CF slow her down! One might think that a child with lung disease may not be able to participate in high-intensity activities. This is not the case for Emily.
"Most people do not even know I'm sick," says Emily. "The only way they find out is if I tell them."
Emily is very active at school - playing basketball, volleyball and track - in addition to being an accomplished student. Her most recent notable achievement? She tried out and made the high school cheer squad. Her motivation and achievements are an inspiration to her parents, family, friends, doctors, nurses and so many others.
"What I think is most special about Emily, is her positive attitude," says her dad, Bob. "She doesn't let this disease keep her from doing things other kids do. There was one track event where she was running with only 50 percent lung function, and I never once heard complain."
"Some might say Emily is a 'poster child' for CF because of the way she's able to lead an active life, without others even knowing she has the disease," says her mom, Lori.
In addition to her parents, Emily draws support from her older sister Jessica and older brother Nick. She also has many friends, family, teachers, school nurses and doctors supporting her as she lives her active life.
"Yes, Emily does get tired of the daily treatments," says her dad. "But Emily has this level of maturity that helps her overcome and keep that positive attitude. She truly is such a joy and we couldn't be more proud of the accomplishments she achieved."