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Meet All in for CF Scholarship Recipient Nicole Wilson
After a 14-year hiatus to take care of her daughters, this determined mom is back pursuing her dream
Nicole Wilson will never forget the moment she learned her first child had cystic fibrosis (CF).
“It was March 10, 2002, and Madeline was 12 days old,” said Nicole, 38, of Mexico, Missouri. “When the pediatrician said the words ‘cystic fibrosis’ I could see the textbook page flash in front of me.” Routine blood work had revealed that Madeline carried an abnormal protein and further testing confirmed the diagnosis. Nicole, a nursing student who dreamed of one day teaching nursing, knew right away what her infant daughter was facing.
“There was no family history—nothing that would have indicated this was a possibility for us,” she said.
Nicole withdrew from nursing school to care for her little girl. Two years later, she gave birth to her second daughter, Ava, who was also diagnosed with CF.
“By then, I was in pure survival mode,” said Nicole, who continued working to help provide for her daughters. “I had to learn to manage two daily breathing treatments for two kids on two different schedules.”
Despite the challenges she and her family faced, Nicole never gave up on her dream of becoming a nurse. Fifteen years after that first diagnosis, Nicole is now the mother of two vibrant teenagers and back in school finishing her nursing degree. These days, instead of balancing nap schedules with treatment schedules, Nicole spends most of her time balancing her home life with work and school.
“I work nights now so I can take classes, and be there in the morning to see my girls off to school,” said Nicole. “Maddie and Ava manage their treatments and get medications on their own now. My goal was to get them to that point before I went back to school. They’ve learned to be responsible for themselves and make responsible and healthy choices.”
In her downtime, Nicole and the girls love to spend time together and have a close relationship.
“We’ll go to the mall, grab some coffee and walk from store to store, talking and just having a good time,” she said.
Rather than look back with anger or regret, Nicole looks back on her turbulent, early years as a parent with gratitude.
“I don’t know how we survived, but I’m grateful we did,” she said. “I’ve tried to teach my girls by example that life is about being resilient—whether that means getting through the day without a setback or getting through a week and not having a hospitalization. They may have CF, but CF doesn’t have them.”