Taylor Frisbee is a freshman at Burroughs High School and like many other students, Frisbee is an athlete. She competed on the cross country team during the fall and the swimming team in the spring.
Unlike many other students, Frisbee was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an incurable disease, at three years old.
Julie, Frisbee’s mother, said that, “Three [years old] is actually a very late diagnosis for CF. Usually, they are diagnosed when they are infants when they are first born, or even before they are born. California now does a newborn screening [for CF] … and most people now find out through that.”
When Frisbee was younger, she was in and out of doctor and pediatrician visits because she always had a cough and was not growing as quickly as the growth charts indicated she should be.
“She just was never really sick enough,” Julie said when explaining the late diagnosis.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 75 percent of people living with CF are diagnosed by age two.
Frisbee’s parents both carry the CF gene, something they had no idea about before Frisbee was diagnosed. The odds of their children having the disease is 25 percent, while being a carrier without having CF is 50 percent.
“At first it was very difficult, you know, the unknown. We just wanted the best treatment and care for the girls,” Julie said.
CF is a genetic disease that, “Causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.”
It is a mutation that causes certain proteins to work improperly. The specific protein would normally help chloride move to the cell surface, and in turn, break down mucus.
Without that protein, mucus gets trapped in the lungs and pancreas, sometimes leading to “infections, inflammation, respiratory failure, … liver disease…, and other complications.”
More than 30,000 people are living with CF in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Some of the symptoms of CF include coughing and shortness of breath.
So how does Frisbee compete in those aforementioned physically demanding sports?
Like every other high school student-athlete, really.
Although Frisbee takes extra steps every day to ensure her health, it is just a part of her everyday life. She has never known anything different.
“Every morning and night I have a respiratory treatment that I wear as a vest, [that] shakes up all the loose mucus,” Frisbee said.
Along with that, she also has inhaled antibiotics that she does at the same time. The process takes about 45 minutes each time, for a total of an hour and a half each day.
“It is just my normal. I can even do it in front of my friends and it does not bother me. After a while, you just treat it like it is not there,” Frisbee said.
Despite the extra time set aside for her routine, Frisbee has never been late to school because of the early morning treatments.
However, she has missed school because of CF. Earlier in the school year, Frisbee was hospitalized due to an infection.
And yet, Frisbee bounced back, ready for the swim season.
“I love being in the water,” Frisbee said.
She competed in a handful of events for the Lady Burros swim team, including several relays as well as individual races.
More recently, she helped her team secure first place in the 400 relay during the CIF-SS Division 4 B Finals.
The Lady Burros were a body length behind the team in first place, and Frisbee not only caught up to the last swimmer but also overtook her on the final lap. She finished in under a minute, something she had been striving for all year.
All while suffering from a disease that makes it harder to breathe.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how she finished. She works really hard to get where she wants to be and is a really great athlete. I think she will do really well if she continues to swim,” said Burroughs Head Coach Brian Williams.
One thing that Frisbee wants to accomplish is spreading more awareness about CF.
“One misconception is that people think that [CF] is contagious, like when I cough,” Frisbee said.
CF is not contagious.
Frisbee is also gearing her future towards a career in medicine as well.
“I just like learning about medicine and that kind of stuff. I want to help people who are sick,” Frisbee said.
One of the steps that Frisbee has taken, no pun intended, is participating in the Great Strides walk, which raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Ridgecrest will be hosting their Great Strides walk at Cerro Coso Community College on December 7, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.
The foundation’s page says, “We are working every day to build on this incredible momentum, and we won’t stop until there is a cure for all people living with CF.”
Frisbee wants others to know that she is just a normal high school student, living a normal life.
“I am just trying to live a normal life,” she said.