Against All Odds: Special Graduation At Fresno State

Student Beats Disease, Takes Home Diploma

 It's the moment college students dream about.  Hearing their name announced at their commencement ceremony.  For many, It marks the end of years of hard work, and the beginning of a new phase in life. But for Fresno State graduate Blaire Strohn, the accomplishment means so much more.  "It's been a challenge with my health but I still don't let that bother me," Blaire says.

Blaire was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth.  It's a genetic disease that causes scar tissue and damage to the lungs,  Blair says it makes it hard to breathe.  "Cystic Fibrosis is basically like breathing through a straw.  That's what I tell people.  It's worse than asthma and everyone is like, 'Oh, you have smoker's cough.'  No, it's not even near that," she says.

 The disease requires hours of treatment every day.  Her decision to manage that and tackle an Ag Communications Degree at Fresno State was a challenge, but with the help of Dr. David Lee of UCSF in Fresno, Blaire was able to get it done.  "School was always a major goal.  Preparing her not just for school, but everything else," Dr. Lee says.  

  In addition to treatments, Blaire must take precautions to stay healthy, like hand washing and avoiding people who are sick.  Dr. Lee worked with Blaire to come up with the best way to manage her symptoms and achieve her goals.  "We made some tough decisions together.  I had to put feeding tubes and another tube into the chest, and the timing of all that was difficult," Dr. Lee says.  "I'm not going to let it bother me.  I'm still going to move on with my life as a normal person," says Blaire.

Four years later.. Blaire is on her way.  Planning now to start a master's program in the fall, and all that lies ahead in her adult life.


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