More than one doctor had told Blaire Strohn to quit school. As a teenager, she’d already lived longer than many others with the serious progressive genetic disease, cystic fibrosis, that has left her with the use of only a fifth of her lungs.
“I was like, that’s not me, I’m not a quitter,” Strohn says of her decision to continue her education. “I’m a fighter.”
Fortunately, when she moved from Hollister to Fresno four years ago to attend Fresno State, she found a doctor who wanted her to graduate. His name is Dr. David Lee, center director of the cystic fibrosis program through UCSF Fresno, and he thinks of Strohn like a daughter.
On Friday afternoon, he’ll be at her Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology graduation ceremony, trying not to cry. Strohn’s receiving her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications.
“Her graduation means the world to me here,” Lee says, “because it takes her hours every day just to get out through the front door. … I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Cystic fibrosis makes the body’s secretions very thick, Lee explains, and progressively, that leads to inflammation, scarring, infection and declined lung capacity.