(Memphis) It’s moving day for 17-year-old Lily Kate Anthony.
With a little help from her parents, she’s busy putting her things into the dorm room where she’ll call home at Rhodes College.
“I’m really excited about the change of environment and the excitement that comes with college life,” Lily Kate Anthony said.
Lily Kate is considering a double major possibly in Psychology and English and she also enjoys acting.
“I look forward to challenging myself in college,” Lily Kate Anthony said.
This college freshman knows a thing or two about facing challenges, especially with her own health which began about eight years ago.
“I’d always struggled with respiratory issues that we attributed to allergies,” Lily Kate Anthony said.
Lily Kate’s parents, John and Lauren Anthony, were very concerned and took her to several specialists.
“We noticed things and we had her checked out multiple times and nothing was coming back,” John Anthony said.
“There was a little bit of frustration at times because as a parent you want to do everything you can to keep you children safe, healthy and happy,” Lauren Anthony said.
An allergists suggested she have a sweat test for Cystic Fibrosis. The results came back positive.
“I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when I was nine years old. So, it would have may 2004,” Lily Kate Anthony said.
Her parents knew they had to be proactive.
“There was a sense of urgency. I think that’s when John and I began to panic when we knew we were looking for not a temporary cure, but a lifelong cure,” Lauren Anthony said.
“I was at work again and she (Lauren) called me on my cell phone and said the results had come back and I had to sit down and like any dad, I had to cry,” John Anthony said.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetically acquired, chronic illness, primarily affecting the lungs and the digestive system. The average life expectancy is 37 years.
“And for a while that was really scary for me and really hard for me to come to terms with and the number 37 was imprinted in my mind,” Lily Kate Anthony said.
Many specialists said the place that could help Lily Kate would be the CF Foundation at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Dennis Stokes is CF Center director at Le Bonheur.
“These new therapies are being developed that are directed specifically at CF institutions, I think offer significant hope that the progress of CF lung disease can be slowed and I think Lily Kate can take advantage of these new therapies,” Stokes said.
To this date, Lily Kate Anthony is doing much better as she still undergoes breathing treatments, and yearly exams.
But having CF doesn’t stop her from actively taking part on the biggest stage, which is living her life to the fullest, all because of her faith, Le Bonheur and her determination.
“I think my illness is a part of me, but it’s not the dominant part of who I am,’ Lily Kate said.
From time-to-time, Lily Kate speaks to groups around the city about battling her illness and why it won’t stop her from one day becoming an actor, writer, psychologist and possibly a mom.