At 18, Marina is very level headed and pragmatic. It is so inspiring to also meet a person who is happy with her life and who works so hard to achieve her goals despite having the extra burden of doing time consuming treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF).

I am studying a Law and Arts degree at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in politics and international relations.  I found the criminal law unit I did last semester very interesting and I also really like learning about international law. I am enjoying going to uni, there’s lots of freedom which is a good and bad thing.  I have purposely selected some 8.30 am sessions for a few of my units so I get things done during the day, instead of sleeping in.

I found it very difficult fitting everything in during my final years at high school in terms of doing my physio, plus study, playing sport, going to church and the gym and having a bit of a social life. I felt like because I was playing netball and going to the gym, I could get away with not doing my physio as much, but I knew it wasn’t clearing the mucus as well as physio does.  My parents were always asking me when was the last time I did my physio, as they were concerned I wasn’t doing it regularly enough, and one day I had a bit of a meltdown. I had an English test to study for and I am one for leaving things a bit too late, so I had lots of study to do and my parents were asking me about my physio and I just snapped!! But my parents said they understood and they backed off a bit.

Growing up, I played water polo, netball and I did dancing and little athletics.  I play netball at a district level for Fremantle. I started going to the gym towards the end of Year 11 with a friend who goes and she often forces me to go to classes with her, so that’s good.

I am currently trying to look for part time work which is proving to be very tricky. They want you to have experience but I have spent the last few years studying hard to get into uni, so I haven’t had any part time jobs.  I should have got a job at 14, so I had something to put on my resume.

I’m not sure yet if later on I want a career as a lawyer. I am looking at the students in my course who are loud and outgoing and are leaders, where as I am more of a follower.  There’s lots of options so I will see what happens.  I might even do a teaching degree so I can teach law and politics.

It’s a big thing for my age group to party. My friends go out every weekend and if you want to keep your friends and see them you kind of have to go out. I do like going to parties and out but I feel like it’s a bit of a waste of money at times.  I live near the Raffles and l know lots of girls who go there every week, and I don’t’ know how they have the time or money to do that. It’s fun from time to time but not all the time.

I do really enjoy spending time with my friends, but I enjoy going out for dinner or sharing a pizza at home. Clubbing is fun but it takes a lot of effort and it can be tiring.  Lots of people will meet up for drinks  or “pre’s” as we call them,  where they BYO their drinks  and because I don’t want to drink too much I don’t bring any and as drinks are so expensive that stops me from buying too many.  It’s kind of gross seeing people so drunk and you feel crappy when you have things to do the next day. I find it’s more fun if I’m in control and can also remember the night.

I went to an all girl’s school where they drilled it into us about staying together as a group, and this has been good for safety when we go out.

I went to Busselton with a group of friends and it was the first time we were staying away with no adults telling us what to do. It was a bit daunting and strange and I was worried it was going to be a drunken brawl, but I had a really good time and felt really safe. It was run by volunteers from the Red Frog organisation. My friends and I stuck together when we went out and there was lots of things to do, which were organised by Red Frog.

Having CF doesn’t restrict me. I still play sport fine and I don’t feel weird taking my medication. All my high school friends know I take medication. Though it has been a bit difficult at uni, taking my enzymes in front of new friends. Sometimes I don’t want to have to answer questions about why I am taking Creon, so I have taken them a bit later on, to avoid annoying questions. But 90% of the time I don’t have an issue.

When I was about ten, I thought to myself that I still had 20 years to go, which seemed like ages.  I also thought it was so unfair that it was me who had CF and not my brother. It was when I was admitted to hospital and so it all seemed more real.

During the time I was in high school I felt frustrated about having CF, when I wanted to be an exchange student at a school in France. The school was concerned that it would be too difficult for a host family to have me because of my CF and that if I was unwell they would have to take me to hospital. I felt like my CF was holding me back from something I really wanted to do.

But now I accept it, it’s something I’ve got, I’ve just got to live with it. I can control it with physio (if I did it more often) – I’m a big procrastinator. I know if I do it I would feel clearer and healthier.

I did have a boyfriend for about ten months. I can’t really remember how I told him about having CF, but I know I took my medication in front of him so he would ask me about it. He did ask me about the life expectancy and that freaked him out. I told him it’s just a statistic.  But I can understand where he was coming from.  I guess I think if the person really loves you it doesn’t matter how long you live for.

In terms of boyfriends, I think if they don’t accept that you have CF, there’s no point dating them. They are not worth it, as CF is a big part of my life. I don’t think people should be ashamed of having CF, it’s no one’s fault. It makes interesting conversation!

In the future I would like to travel to America, Europe and to South Africa to go on a safari tour.

Now I am also thinking about a career and family and will I see my grandchildren or experience old age? But I feel very lucky to live this life. Being Christian also really helps. I am having a happy life. I don’t feel the need to go sky diving and to tick off things on a bucket list, I am satisfied with all the things I have done and can do now.