Studying English Literature and Drama with Cystic Fibrosis

Annie has cystic fibrosis and studies a joint BA Hons in English Literature and Drama. 

The employment/study you proved possible…: 

I study English Literature and Drama at Kingston University, London!

Your disability in your own words…: 
I have Cystic Fibrosis (or CF, for short). CF is a genetic disease mainly affecting the lungs, as well as the digestive system too. We get a build up of thick, sticky mucus in our lungs which causes frequent infections, resulting in many hospital admissions and a crazy amount of medications! I do multiple breathing treatments and physio daily, along with various inhalers and pills including enzymes with everything I eat to help me digest it. I also often need to have courses of IV antibiotics because of the lung infections I get. 

Over the last year, my CF has progressed meaning that I also have to use oxygen a lot of the time now, as my lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen on their own anymore. 


What did you need to do in order to make this employment/study possible alongside your disability? What obstacles did you have to negotiate and how?:

When I first applied to university I wasn’t planning to take drama as I was too worried I wouldn’t be able to manage, but decided at the last minute to ‘yolo’ it!

My health was much better back then and I didn’t have to use oxygen as much so I hid it from my lecturers and classmates for a while as I was quite nervous about telling people! It was silly really because when I finally did, they were SO accepting, it made me think it had probably been more trouble for me trying to hide it than it would if I’d told them before!

Because my CF has gotten worse recently I’ve been struggling a lot with the physical side of drama, but my tutors have been fantastic! One thing about my course is with English I can do any work from my bed or hospital if need be but with drama of course that isn’t always the case! However, everybody’s been really supportive and have offered heaps of help when I’ve needed it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting this journey?

Don’t be afraid to let people know that life can be a little different for you! I spent too long trying to hide my condition to have a ‘normal’ uni life.. in the end that proved impossible but it’s since I’ve been open with people that everybody’s made an effort to hang out with me when I’ve been unable to get out, and I’ve become closer with people as a result!

It’s normal for people to ask questions, as having a disability makes us different and it’s natural for people to become curious, but I’m yet to meet anyone at uni that hasn’t been accepting.. and if they are, you DEFINITELY don’t want or need that sort of negativity in any case!

If you have a disability and have been\are in employment, or have studied at degree level; why not submit to Proved Possible?

Being a Teacher and a Wheelchair User

Sarah studied a PGCE at the University of Nottingham and became a lecturer/teacher at the same time as a chronic digestive disorder led to her needing a wheelchair.

The employment/study you proved possible…
I studied a PGCE and I am now a college lecturer / teacher. I was in a wheelchair while at university, on and off for the first several years of my career.

Your disability in your own words…: 
I have a chronic illness which has confined me to a wheelchair for several years. 

What did you need to do in order to make this employment/study possible alongside your disability? What obstacles did you have to negotiate and how?: 

Having been able-bodied and physically active up until age 22 then suddenly chronically ill and disabled it was a horrific adjustment to make. I had to adjust within my own mind which was hard, and to adjust to people looking at me as though they were wondering whether I was “all there”. There were places I used to go to which were now inaccessible. However generally speaking in academia and the workplace, people were very accommodating and helpful.

To succeed I became more confident and outspoken; I think I was trying to prove to myself and others that I wasn’t on the course / in the job out of pity or positive discrimination, but rather, because I was actually really good at it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting this journey?:

There will be times when you don’t get onto a course, or you don’t get a job. It happens to everybody. The chance of it may be higher because of your disability, but you are quite capable of working, so keep trying and you will succeed. Temporary work is a great “foot in the door” so take every opportunity you can to be employed (actually that’s good advice for anyone, disabled or not).

Also, be realistic. It’s nice to think that anyone with any disability can do anything, but if you’re visually impaired, don’t set your heart on being a lifeguard, and if you’re in a wheelchair, rethink the plans to become a firefighter. There are many great jobs around if you pick wisely.

If you have a disability and have been\are in employment, or have studied at degree level; why not submit to Proved Possible?