Case overcoming cystic fibrosis to graduate ahead of schedule

May. 19, 2013 @ 09:48 PM

For Hope Case, graduating at 18 and going on to college took more work than the average person.

Case, the daughter of Curtis and Rebecca Case, has cystic fibrosis. When she was in kindergarten, her symptoms were severe enough that she wound up being held back for a year.

During her sophomore year at Seymour High, she realized she had a choice. She could continue on her current course, graduating with her friends but at 19, or she could complete her high school graduation requirements. She chose to take the extra classes she needed to graduate at 18. “I wanted to be able to graduate before I was 19 and go on to college,” she said.

“It’s a little bit challenging because the people I was supposed to graduate with, and I don’t have a lot of friends in the classes I’m in now. It took a lot of work to do it. I had to take online classes go to an adult school and take two classes there, plus all the classes here I had to do.”

Having cystic fibrosis added to the challenges. The hereditary, chronic disease affects the lungs and the digestive system. It causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas, decreasing the body’s ability to break down and absorb food. She also suffers asthma and gastroesophegaeal reflux disease.

While cystic fibrosis still requires daily treatment, advances in medicine over the past few years have improved the outlook for people dealing with the disease.

“It takes a lot of time out of the day to do all the things you’re supposed to do, but it’s not a struggle anymore because I’m used to having to do that and a lot of the advances in technology have really helped in the time you have to spend on it,” Case said.

In addition to causing her to miss some time in elementary school, her condition also caused her to leave the high school for a while in her sophomore year. During that time, though, she was able to continue her studies through home schooling and, in fact, it was during that time that she set out to finish high school this year.

“I decided I wanted to get a year ahead and I did some extra classes,” she said.

That meant losing touch with many of the other students she’s gone to school with for most of her life. “I only mainly got to keep one (friend) because the rest just got tired of where I couldn’t hang out,” she said. “I got really close to the teachers because some would stay after school and help me with my classes.”

She credited those teachers, and especially guidance counselor Cheryl Troutman for their help.

With so much extra classwork, Case said she didn’t have a lot of spare time for extracurricular activities at school, but she is heavily involved at her church, Family Chapel Church of God, and its youth group.

“We do a whole bunch of things during the week.”

She’s already got a plan for what she will study in college — polysomnography, a health care branch focused on sleep studies. With an advanced degree, she said, she could also take part in brain studies.

Hope learned about the career by going to work with her father.

“I was really interested in going with him and it’s something I’d really like to do.

“I really like anatomy and psychology and the brain.”

n jfarrell@themountainpress.com