Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cystic Fibrosis and Relationships: How Do We Communicate?

Guest post by Katie Broekema

Hello everyone! This is Katie, I am back again to tell you what is going on in my life right now. To see some of the lessons I have learned from cystic fibrosis and running, click here.

If you read my bio, you saw that I am currently a graduate student at Central Michigan University. But what my bio does not tell you is the path that I took to get there. I have always thought that school was something to do to get you where you want to go, but when I was a senior in college I realized I had no idea where I wanted to go. I was a computer science and communication major; do not ask me why or how, because I could not tell you. I just fell into both fields thinking I would find what I wanted to do, and then suddenly it was graduation time and I still had no idea. Sometime early in the fall semester I followed my nose to a meeting. I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was that there was Pizza Hut pizza there; I slowly learned it was a graduate communication program recruitment visit from CMU. I figured there was no harm in applying for the program; I was shocked when I was accepted with a graduate assistantship. So I went into this program with the idea that this would buy me 2 more years to discover what I wanted to do. I have just finished my first year of that program, and I now have a totally different attitude. I know what I want to do with the rest of my life! It is thus amazing feeling, like a total sense of euphoria. I actually enjoy reading thousands of article pages: I am looking forward to writing my 150 page thesis. So now you may be asking yourself, what is this magical area of interest? Well I will tell you; it is Cystic Fibrosis.

It started out so innocently; I had to write a class paper so I picked something that I knew about and that I thought would be easy, how people with Cystic Fibrosis communicate. I did this all the time in science classes and when I had to give speeches, why would it not work now? I was duped in this process, but in a good way. Once I began my research, I remembered a conversation that I had several years ago with a high school girl who had Cystic Fibrosis. She asked me how I had told my boyfriend about my Cystic Fibrosis, because she also had Cystic Fibrosis and she wanted to tell this guy but she did not know how. This sparked my interest in how to share Cystic Fibrosis-related information with a significant other, and it is a topic that has become my thesis project. Right now I am in the process of collecting background information and starting the writing process, but as soon as that is done I would like to begin collecting data. This is where all you readers come in; I really want to talk to you and hear your thoughts! I am hoping that by the end of the summer I will be able to start interviewing people. If this is something that you are at all interested in being a part of, please send me an email at

This initial topic has grown much more than I would have ever imagined. As I was doing my research I realized there is no research connecting communication and Cystic Fibrosis or any other genetic diseases. Having a genetic disease presents a unique set of variables and situations that need to be navigated, but there is lack of research on how this all is communicated. Therefore, I am in the beginning stages of many other research ideas involving Cystic Fibrosis and communication. If you would like to be involved, or if you have another area that you think really needs attention, let me know. My goal with my research is not to do research for research-sake, but for the real application into the lives of people with Cystic Fibrosis. So letting me know what you think is incredibly important and makes what I am doing matter. If you have any ideas, please send me an email. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Thank you all so much in advance for your help, and thank you Ronnie for letting me share my thoughts in your blog. It was such a great honor to write this for RSBR and this blog is really making a difference in a lot of people’s lives.

BIO: Katie is 22 years old and has lived in Michigan her whole life. She graduated from Albion College with a double major in computer science and communication, and she is currently working on a Master’s degree from Central Michigan University in communication; with a focus on health communication. In her spare time, Katie enjoys finding new research topics, preparing to teach her COM 101 classes, helping coach the local high school cross country and track teams, running, cooking and convincing various family members that they should get her a Pomsky puppy. (Look them up, they are adorable!) She would love to hear back from people who have read her posts, her email is

Note from Ronnie: I would just like to thank Katie for submitting, not one, but TWO great guest posts. I hope she was able to inspire some of you to get out and get active after reading what she has learned through running with Cystic Fibrosis. Also, anyone who is interested in contributing to her thesis, please email her to "get in on the action". I believe this is a very important topic that needs to be explored and I'm really looking forward to what her research brings forth.