I was diagnosed with the disease Cystic Fibrosis when I was 3 days old.  This chronic disease affects many organs of the body but predominantly causes mucus to build up in the airways, causing frequent infections of the lungs and sinuses. I also have asthma. 

I manage my condition by doing daily chest physiotherapy, sinus washouts, nebulising antibiotics, taking a cocktail of pills and inhalers and am admitted to hospital for intravenous antibiotics usually twice a year.  I know the importance of exercise and keep fit by mountain biking, playing soccer, netball and running my 2 dogs’ every day. 

Stories Nicolewithdog

I began volunteering at a vet clinic when I was 12 and by 16 was studying veterinary nursing. I volunteered as the Chairperson and Secretary of Cystic Fibrosis for 5 years helping others with Cystic Fibrosis in the Wellington region. My passion is animals and I am heavily involved as a volunteer at the Wellington SPCA.  I foster sick kittens and other animals from the SPCA at my home and nurse them back to health so they can have a second chance at life. I am an Animal Therapist and take an SPCA puppy or kitten to visit the elderly a Te Hopai rest home every week, and also volunteer as a Vet Nurse and am currently in the mobile sterilization clinic in Lower Hutt helping sterilize animals from low income families.  

I am an Emergency Reservist and have completed training so I can be deployed in a natural disaster to save animals. I am also a volunteer emergency night responder for the SPCA and one night a week (6 pm till 8 am) I am on call responding to animal emergencies. I also work part time as a Vet Nurse at a private clinic and as an Administrator to pay the bills! I received a scholarship to study a Diploma in Business (which I am currently studying correspondence through SIT). Most days there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in.  

"I knew it was a real risk coming to a third world country when I have cystic fibrosis, but this was something I had to do… helping animals is just in my blood."

In 2015 I pushed the boundaries of my condition and spent 4 months volunteering in South America as a Vet Nurse helping raise awareness against animal abuse, treating street animals and visiting rubbish tips to help the abandoned dogs. I knew it was a real risk coming to a third world country when I have cystic fibrosis, but this was something I had to do… helping animals is just in my blood. There are over 3 million street dogs in Chile; in one city myself and a local vet hired a community hall for one day and sterilized over 60 dogs and 20 cats, we worked all day until late at night in terrible unhygienic conditions with limited tools and needles, one bottle of disinfectant, no oxygen machine and an office desk for an operating table. Every day of the trip I met with officials in local governments (and the main government), appeared on live television, featured in over 5 newspapers and appeared live on 2 different radio networks. I worked in refuges, treated dogs on the street for mange and parasites and injuries, visited landfills, operated in surgeries to sterilize animals, arranged mass street protests and met with many people. 

Spending 4 months living in poor conditions with diseased animals was a challenge health wise but I worked with my Doctor and made sure I brought enough medicine with me and had IV antibiotics before I went. I also stayed on top of my exercise over there and used a lot of sterigel to prevent germs. 

I will never let having Cystic Fibrosis or Asthma stop me from following my passion, and I hope this inspires others to do the same.


If you or someone you know with a respiratory condition has a story to share, please email marketing@asthmaandrespiratory.org.nz and you could be featured here too!

Can you help other New Zealanders with a respiratory condition?

Sadly, many New Zealanders are affected by respiratory disease. One in six New Zealanders have a respiratory condition. Respiratory illness is the third leading cause of death in New Zealand.

DonateGet involved

Have you read

View all