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Disease can't keep her down

Although cystic fibrosis has kept Nicole Fedie out of school for months at a time, the Plum City senior's determination has helped her to graduate with the rest of her class.

"I think she, because of her drive, reflects on other students in our school, knowing that someone living with a disease like cystic fibrosis can still come to school and have a positive outlook on life," Plum City High School Principal Paul Churchill said.

The graduation ceremony was at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Plum City High School. The class of 2008 graduated 31 students.

"It gets really hard, but I've overcome it," Fedie said of her condition.

She said she has been in the hospital every year of her high school career for at least one to two months.

" ... so it's really hard to keep up my credits," said Fedie, the daughter of Linda Fedie and Don Fedie, both of Plum City.

Fedie's daily routine is much different from that of her peers, and not many of them fully comprehend her battle.

"They know. I don't think they understand," she said. "But that just comes with a maturity level with some of the people. Some make comments when I cough. They don't know how bad it is. They know I've had a lung disease."

Fedie describes cystic fibrosis as "a life-threatening lung disease that makes your mucous thick and is kind of like having a chest cold all the time."

To help dislodge that mucous, Fedie undergoes treatment two to three times a day, where she wears a special vest with tubes connected that vibrates and shakes to help break up the mucous.

She also takes antibiotics and uses a nebulizer.

Her condition also limits how fully Fedie can participate in extracurricular activities.

Fedie says she enjoys attending events, particularly football and volleyball.

She is also a member of the student council.

She often misses entire sports seasons due to her recurring hospital stays.

"That's just one of the things you have to give up so you can get healthier," she said.

Dealing with cystic fibrosis is nothing new for Fedie's family, however. Her older sister also had the disease.

"She had cancer in high school and also had cystic fibrosis, and she died at almost 21 in college in her last year," Fedie said.

The teen admits she's also had to deal with some depression since then, but gives a lot of credit to her mother, a nurse, for all the help she has provided.

"Mom has always managed my health," Nicole Fedie said. "I don't even know where I'd be in this world without her. She has a full-time job, is a single parent and she still does it and it's great."

Fedie says she has learned a great deal about the medical field during her time spent in the hospital, which led to to decide to study renal dialysis at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wis.