They say that only 10% of an iceberg’s mass lingers above water. This analogy perfectly describes Sean Wiere. On the surface, you’d see a funny guy who loves surfing, but below the surface, there’s far more that makes him not just your average “surfer bro” from Southern California. A Thousand Oaks, native, Sean grew up practically on the Pacific Ocean. He is a 24 year-old with a mother, father and younger sister who has a shy side and values finding quality in good friendships.
He started surfing at the age of 5 which is also when his first symptoms of CF exhibited. He acquired an intestinal blockage which led to an appendectomy. Despite being diagnosed with CF, his parents decided to not involve him in the CF aspect of his life and have him continue with his “normal” childhood. He went about his day-to-day doing sports, being the class clown, and remaining less aware of the severity of his genetic disease.
Sean was involved in a variety of sports including wrestling, golfing, basketball, tennis, and soccer, but surfing was and still is his passion. The salt water that the ocean provided was tremendous for his health during his childhood. Whether there is a scientific correlation between the effect of salt water for those with CF, Sean believes it truly did contribute to his healthy upbringing. It wasn’t until high school that he started making trips to the hospital and further understood the importance of doing his treatments and what CF truly impacted. He even continued helping the CFF by raising awareness.
Once Sean continued onto college, he noticed a different correlation between his lung function and physical health. His mental health started impacting his overall health. Sean learned that “stress tenfold increases” and he believes this is the number one factor that deteriorates one’s physical well-being. As he learned new ways to improve his health, his interest in science blossomed, as well. Sean did not express interest in his academics, rather his priorities were enjoying his time with friends and being on the water. After barely graduating high school, he originally went to community college and discovered how much he loved school and enjoyed being challenged. Science is what challenged him and piqued his interest. He transferred to the University of Hawaii and received his undergraduate in biology. Currently, he’s attaining a master’s degree in molecular biosciences and bio-engineering. “A lot of CF people are basically mini doctors,” said Sean. They learn so much from their own illness and want to learn more. It’s a natural progression for many to focus their studies on science.
A lot has changed in and outside of the CF community in the recent years. Growing up, Sean used to tell his friends that he had asthma and would simply say, “I cough a lot”. He did not want his friends feeling sorry for him but wanted them to know that it is a difficult illness. He is pro “Five Feet Apart” because now when he explains that he has CF, people already have an idea.
Having cystic fibrosis has shaped Sean immensely. Some days are easier than others, however his CF diagnosis did lead him to his current studies. He is continually grateful for having the ability to challenge himself, be more positive, and have more hope. It literally is “every breath you take” and it is something that he does not take lightly. Sean intends on getting married in the next year, completing his master’s degree and moving to San Francisco to gain experience at a biotech company. He is excited about the future of CF and remains hopeful for the “next thing” to pop up in the community as accessibility and drugs have become more prevalent. Looking back, Sean is grateful that his parents made the decision to protect him from the reality of his disease because that helped him remain healthy longer and decide his own involvement. He remains continually hopeful, confident, and grateful that he will soon be able to contribute to future medical discoveries and has a community supporting him.
Instagram – @sean_wiere