Kristen Fischer lived with cystic fibrosis, but she never let it control her life.
Fischer, 23, a senior in management, died Friday from complications caused by cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects the entire body, causing progressive disability and early death. She had been hospitalized since Jan. 28 at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
According to friends, the illness never affected Fischer’s spirit. She kept a bright smile in every situation, and she often inspired those who saw her deal with her difficulties.
“It’s amazing how people that have such weakness and problems can be some of the strongest people that we look up to,” said Matt Scheuneman, a senior in psychology and co-president with Fischer of the UT Baptist Collegiate Ministry last year. “She never complained, ever.”
Charissa Hearon, Fischer’s friend and housemate, also noted that Fischer never used her illness as an excuse.
“She always put others before herself, never complaining, even though she had many reasons to complain,” Hearon said.
Kely Braswell, Fischer’s pastor at Antioch Community Church, agreed that Fischer never let the disease control her life.
“Although she had a big disease, she never let it affect the person she was,” Braswell said.
As co-president of the BCM, Fischer’s concern for others shined through. Scheuneman said she continually tried to reach out to students across campus.
“It wasn’t all about getting you involved in church, though. She really had a concern for their well-being,” he said.
For Fischer, God was the most important thing in life. Hearon said Fischer’s commitment to Christianity allowed her to make the most of her life.
“Kristen had a short life, but a very full life because she gave herself fully to God,” Hearon said.
Fischer had a passion for Jesus, Braswell said. She kept a Bible with her everywhere she went. As a result, her family placed her well-worn and much-underlined Bible under her pillow while she laid in her hospital bed, Braswell said.
Her religious passion was also evident in other ways. Braswell told of how Fischer once missed out on a mission trip because of her illness, but instead of letting this upset her, she decided to be the prayer coordinator for the mission team.
Scheuneman said Fischer was always looking for opportunities to minister to people. He mentioned that before coming to UT, Fischer attended Roane State Community College, where she almost single-handedly revived the school’s BCM.
“I think the most incredible thing about her is how hard she worked,” Scheuneman said. “It just impressed me so much.”
Fischer’s dedication is something Scheuneman will keep with him.
“I think what I’ll miss the most about her is that, well I’ll keep it with me, is that example of such amazing dedication to her mission and what she set her heart out to tell people about Christ,” he said.
A memorial service will be held March 8 at 7 p.m. at John XXIII University Parish. The service is open to all students.
“She was a great friend and will be missed deeply because of her compassionate and loving spirit,” Hearon said.
Senior champions ministry; succumbs to cystic fibrosis
Published: Wed Mar 07, 2007 | Modified: Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:16 a.m.