My name is Madison Teribery. I am a junior at General McLane High School in Edinboro, Pa. I am a cheerleader for my school’s football team and I’ve been on the Principal’s Honor Roll for two years. Although it sometimes feels like I don’t have a normal teenage life, I still love to hang out with my friends, shop, and watch all of my favorite TV shows. When I graduate from high school, my dream is to go to college and become a neonatal nurse, to give other children the care that I’ve received my whole life from the doctors at the Children’s Hospital. I was born with cystic fibrosis, and as it has had its ups and downs, I’m pleased to be the patient I am today.
When I was younger, I had the idea that because I wasn’t feeling sick, I was healthy. My parents would say I needed to do my treatments, and I didn’t understand why because I wasn’t coughing or wheezing, I thought I was fine. It’s different with CF than it is with the flu or a cold. When you have the flu, you feel achy or nauseous and you can tell that something isn’t right. However, with CF, you can’t always tell that there is something wrong because you can’t see it. For that reason, doing treatments was a fight every day.
Once I started to have sleepovers and hang out with friends outside of school, the fight was even worse. I felt like my friends didn’t want to sit there while I did my treatments. It was constantly in my mind that they would think I was weird and different if they saw this imperfection I had. At this point, it was a struggle even for me to take vitamins. I see now how much that must have hurt my family to see that I didn’t care, and that being normal was more important to me than my health. As I started to grow up, I was told that the trust was fully on me from my doctors and parents that I would do what I had to do. I understood that if I didn’t do treatments, there was no one to blame but myself for it, so I did what I could to get myself back on track. I finally saw that the pride I felt after seeing I could do it on my own was much more powerful than the pride I’d feel to lead a normal, yet unhealthy life.
Today I am 16 years old and I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I understand that with CF, you can’t always see that you are sick, but doing the treatments anyways means you won’t feel sick. I know that my friends should accept me and encourage me to keep myself as healthy as possible, even if I look stupid while doing it. I was born with cystic fibrosis and I can’t change that, but I can do everything possible to prepare myself for the day when my health is fully my responsibility and there’s no one there to constantly remind me of what I should be doing. I recognize just how lucky I am to be in the condition I’m in, and I know I couldn’t be there without my family, friends and, most importantly, my doctors.