BLADENBORO — Despite all odds, Bladen County’s only cystic fibrosis patient just turned 16 and is looking forward to getting his license soon.
Nathan Nance, a student at West Bladen High School, is the only person in the Mother County with the often-debilitating pulmonary disease, according to a medical database, but he’s not letting CF slow — or keep — him down.
“He’s almost six feet tall now,” said step-mother Tesla Nance. “The Duke doctors just can’t believe how much he’s growing, because a lot of kids with CF just don’t grow much.”
The soon-to-be driver will spend a lot of time doing something most new licensees don’t have to worry about, however — going to doctor visits. Multiple trips to Durham every month, combined with regularly missing school or leaving early to come home for treatment after an attack mean the teen spends more than a small amount of time dealing with his health.
“He has to take five pills every time he eats just to digest his food,” Tesla explained, “and he’s on three antibiotics right now to kill the germs he has in his lungs.”
To offset the costs of medicine and doctor visits, Team Nathan is planning fundraisers for this year. Now through March, $5 raffle tickets will be sold at Bladenboro merchants.
“Last year, we had two $20 gas cards and a propane tank from Sun-Do, Toddlers and Teens raincoat and rain boots — I mean we just had a lot of good prizes,” Tesla commented.
In March, the Team is planning a cystic fibrosis march in Bladenboro.
“I know everyone can’t attend the Durham walk,” said the caretaker, referring to Great Strides, the annual benefit walk of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “That’s a long haul, and for the ones that want to support and participate, we wanted to have something here.”
The $35 entry fee will include participation in the walk, a Team Nathan t-shirt, and a Team Nathan window decal.
To sign up for the walk or to buy raffle tickets, Tesla can be reached by calling 910-633-5718, or more information may be obtained by following Team Nathan on Facebook.
All money raised by the walk will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The group is taking their efforts beyond Bladen County, however. In April, the team will participate in Great Strides and is encouraging local businesses to get involved. Sponsorships are available for $100, $250, or $500 and will include a sign with the company’s name along the route of the Great Strides walk. Signs range from 18” x 24” to 24” x 18” with a fact about cystic fibrosis.
Nathan has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease affecting 30,000 people in the United State and 70,000 worldwide. Only manifested when both parents are carriers — which one in 32 Americans are, according the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — the incurable disease can affect the pancreas liver, kidneys, and intestine, but it is mostly known for its effect on the lungs. People with cystic fibrosis have difficulty breathing and frequently contract lung infections. Additional information can be found by visiting cff.org.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.