THOMAS — Eric Goodwin is making the most out of his life.
His parents — Dillon and Kim Goodwin — are letting him live that life to the fullest extent he can.
Eric is a 17-year-old senior at Snake River High School. He’s a 4.0 student with a good shot at making valedictorian with his graduating class.
He’s in all the assorted bands at school. He’s on the school’s debate team. He’s in Business Professionals of America. He represented the school at Boys State, a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.
He got a 35 on his ACT test, a near-perfect score, in the top percentile. So far, he’s looking at going to college at Stanford University, Utah State University, or Brigham Young University, studying aerospace engineering or computer science.
If he could, he’d become an astronaut. Out of all his achievements so far in life, there’s only one thing holding him back from that goal.
Eric has cystic fibrosis (CF).
He was diagnosed with the hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive system when he was nine months old. Dillon and Kim were first-time parents, adjusting to life with a baby. Kim said some people at their church noticed some possible signs and asked if Eric had CF, having seen sisters Frannie and Julia Baumgartner, also with CF.
The Goodwins asked for a test. They got a call back with the results, saying that the test came back positive.
“We were shocked,” Kim said. “At our first appointment, they said a lung had partially collapsed. We had no idea.”
Dillon is with the National Guard and is a mortgage underwriter. The Guard helps tremendously with medical expenses, making treatment much more affordable, Kim said.
To add to their fight, another son of the Goodwins, 12-year-old Ryker, also has CF.
“In some ways it’s hard,” Kim said. “But we do what we have to do for them.
“Mostly, we just go day to day. We do as well as we can and not stop to think about why we have to do it. It gets heavy and it gets hard, but we do it.”
In the “CF World,” it helps to have someone people with CF can relate to, she said, so having a sibling with CF helps in that way.
“CF patients really can’t meet that many people face-to-face because of the germ factor,” Kim added. “So having a sibling with that in common helps to share those frustrations.
There are six children in the Goodwin household. CF has gone in a pattern there — one with, two without, another one with, another two without.
Eric has dealt with CF quite naturally.
“I haven’t known anything else,” he said. “I just find ways to work around it.”
“He’s so chill, I don’t think he stresses about it,” Kim added.
The Goodwins had to find a way to work around CF last May when Eric had to be in the at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for two weeks, where he was left alone the entire time because Kim was needed at home.
Around that exact time, Eric had to take two Advanced Placement tests in calculus and English on a very set and strict schedule. They had to schedule hospital time around that, and he passed the tests with flying colors. As soon as he came back from the hospital, he had to pack up and go off to Boys State in Boise.
Even with CF, Eric made it all work — all the medications, all the equipment needed to free up thick mucus from his lungs, everything.
A typical day for Eric consists of getting up at 5 in the morning, showering, doing his treatment for a half-hour, packing a lunch, taking his morning meds, heading out the door for a full day of school with lunch meds in between, homework at home, late-night meds, and sleep before starting all over again the next day.
Eric seems to have his heart set on going to Stanford. With everything Eric needs to treat CF, Kim hopes he’ll decide to stay closer to home at Utah State, but she’s been assured there’s a good CF center near Stanford.
“It’s a little scary,” she said.
“I’ve always just coped with it, made things as easy as possible,” Eric said. As for fellow students and how they are with him, “They’re all pretty cool about it.”
Kim said she would read books to schoolmates about CF and explain why he had to take so many medications early on in his school years to help them understand and adjust.
As for the risk of germs, that’s where letting Eric live his life as much as possible has also come in.
“I could be more careful when it comes to that, but I’d rather have our kids live their lives to the fullest as much as they can rather than live in a bubble,” Kim said. “It’s a tricky balance.”