Zoe has just turned 15 and is very excited about starting Year 9 at high school this year. Zoe has cystic fibrosis (CF).

“Zoe was diagnosed shortly after the standard heel prick test when she was born,” says Zoe’s mum Trish. “We were in the hospital daily for a week. We were educated, trained and given plenty of opportunities to ask questions. It wasn’t a good time for us; we had to learn how to accept it and get on with life”. Zoe became unwell at three months of age with bronchiolitis a common chest infection in young children. Zoe spent a number of weeks in hospital – some of this time in intensive care. “Zoe’s condition really put into perspective how serious things can get in a short period of time,” says Trish.

Since birth, Zoe has endured bouts of ill health including pneumonia, chest infections and bowel issues. She and her family continue in their routines; daily care, hospital stays every three months for ‘tune-ups’, physiotherapy and more.

“As soon as I wake up, I do a nebuliser treatment (physiotherapy) for 15 minutes which helps increase my lung capacity. I take a heap of tablets before going to school and at lunchtime I take my enzyme tablets. I take more tablets later in the day, and when I come home I do a full physiotherapy session which can take up to one hour and I try to get some homework done. I have an overnight feed through a PEG tube, which goes straight into my stomach, so I connect that before I go to sleep. Before bed, you guessed it, another load of tablets. Some days I am just too tired to make it to school.”

Zoe’s ongoing tune-ups occur every three months and are a combination of inpatient visits and care from the RCH Hospital in the Home (HITH) service. This means missing a great deal of school. During these admissions, Zoe undergoes lung function tests, is given antibiotics, blood tests, schttps://www.rch.org.au/hacc/programs/ans and physiotherapy. “The work done by the team at the Royal Children’s Hospital is amazing”, says Trish.

Cystic Fibrosis Victoria (CFV) plays an important role in supporting members like Zoe and her family, offering financial support, respite opportunities, information and advice. “Our role is to support our families through the hard times and make sure everyone in the family is being cared for”, says the CEO of CFV, Karin Knoester.

“I love my dog and my tank full of fish. I’d like to become a vet nurse or an animal photographer,” Zoe says.