Kate Campbell

Kate Campbell likes a good challenge.

While a student at Presque Isle (Maine) High School, she played ice hockey on the boys’ team. Soccer, softball and swimming dominated other seasons, plus student council, jazz and show choirs, school musicals … and SkillsUSA, in which she was state president.

That’s a lot for anyone. Where does she find the time for so many things?

“I don’t really know,” she replies. “I’m as busy as they get, that’s for sure!”

Campbell’s schedule becomes even more impressive when considering that she has a serious illness.

“At 9 months of age, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. It impairs the digestive system and the respiratory system especially,” she explains. To build her lung capacity, Campbell’s parents encouraged her to be active, starting with swimming.

“I had a sport every season,” she says. A hockey player since grade school, she decided to try out for the boys’ varsity team once she was old enough. The coach, Carl Flynn, knew her strengths after training her for 10 years on other teams.

“He really pushed me,” Campbell says. “He didn’t say, ‘Oh, she’s a girl; she can’t do that.’ ”

Standing just 5 feet 3 inches, Campbell wasn’t the first female student to play on the varsity team, but according to her, she is the first to make it based on her skill on the ice. Her infectious spirit caught the attention of a local TV station, which aired a feature story about her (see it at: http://wagmtv.com/news/campbell-overcomes-several-obstacles-to-compete).

Campbell says that while her illness can get in the way, she tries not to let it limit her choices. “There have been times where I’ve been really ill and missing school for a couple of weeks. It’s been difficult for sure, but I really just had to push myself day by day and do it that way. That’s how I approach it.”

Unfortunately, other health challenges have come her way. “It kind of seemed like right when I got my feet there and I was ready and I said, ‘I finally got this,’ I got diagnosed with diabetes,” she adds.

Campbell has cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD). “It’s not like regular diabetes, which makes it more difficult,” she says. “I’m a regular diabetic along with hypoglycemic. Hypo- and hyper-, so I go really high and really low.”

Despite this, Campbell keeps pushing herself to try new things. In SkillsUSA, she competed in her state Job Interview competition, winning gold twice, and went on to the nationals in 2011 and 2012. She currently attends LaSalle College in Newton, Mass., studying marketing communications and public relations.

Asked why she’s so active, “What do I have to lose?” Campbell replies. Her illness, she explains, has helped shape her into the dynamic person she is today.

“It’s just a part of me that’s made me so vibrant and so alive,” she says. “In a weird way, I’m so blessed and grateful I have a terminal illness. Go figure!”