Sunday, August 4, 2013

Germanna twins won't let cystic fibrosis limit or define them

Germanna Community College students Cristina and Valentina Scholes want people to know that life with cystic fibrosis can be good. They refuse to allow the disease to limit or define them. It’s a tough life, they say, but it can be one of fulfillment, of joy and of hope.
Cristina and Valentina Scholes

It can be debilitating, and those with the disease have shorter life expectancies.
And yet bubbly Cristina and Valentina, who are in the business administration program at Germanna, are practically bursting with excitement over what’s been happening in their lives. They’re close to earning their associate’s degrees at GCC and have been part of the internship program at the college.
The twins, who are graduates of Colonial Forge High School, say they hope they can be role models for other young people battling the disease.
In the 1950s, children born with the genetic defect weren’t expected to live long enough to go to grade school. Today, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, those with the disease live “into their 40s, 50s and beyond.”
“Doctors and researchers are finding so many new treatments and medications,” Cristina says. “With all these treatments and meds it's easier to function normally. But it is a hard disease to live with because of the maintenance part. If we skip a treatment we get sick then have to be hospitalized for three or four days. We need a flexible job that is willing to work with us. Health insurance is very important.  I feel like there isn't enough information about cystic fibrosis for people to really understand it.”
Valentina and Cristina say many still do die from the disease, but that they believe if people with cystic fibrosis take care of themselves they can live a “normal” life. “But what is normal?” Cristina says. “Everyone has struggles and I think ours just motivate us. We strive to be more and to become better. Each day is a gift on this earth and we are happy to be doing well and finding jobs. I hope we can inspire other people with cystic fibrosis to do the same. I think with any disease it's mind over matter.”

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