Cystic fibrosis doesn’t stop Calumet man from living life to the fullest

Jill Solin

Some of life’s most important moments take place with a little help from others. This couldn’t be more true for 30-year-old Greg Olson, of Calumet, who is living with cystic fibrosis (CF).  

Despite having CF, an incurable inherited disorder that mainly affects the lungs and digestive system, Greg found himself up against an even bigger battle – alcoholism. With help, compassion and support from Shannon Handler, his primary care provider of eight years and family nurse practitioner at Aspirus, Greg is well on his way to living a cleaner, healthier life.

“Cystic fibrosis causes anxiety and depression, but thanks to Shannon I’m able to live my life,” Greg said. “She is so wonderful and has never judged me. She is the first health care provider I have been able to be completely open and honest with. It has been a long journey, and it’s taken me many years to fully admit my alcoholism, but today I’m in recovery and doing well.”

Getting the right care at the right time

With routine treatments close to home, Greg has a healthy handle on his CF symptoms. He works full time as an optometric technician at Insight Eyecare and has plans to become a certified paraoptometric. Outside of work, he hits the volleyball courts as both a player and a coach.

Unfortunately, during one of his games, Greg was elbowed in the face and suffered a laceration above his eye. Unsure whether or not his injury warranted a trip to the emergency department at Aspirus Keweenaw, he decided to go, and he was glad he did.

“I was so grateful for Dr. [Douglas] Crosby and registered nurse Ryan Bessolo for providing me with the best care. They cleaned up my eye and put stitches in. I didn’t feel any pain,” Greg said. “Dr. Crosby should be a plastic surgeon because you can’t even see a scar.”

Greg’s volleyball injuries didn’t end there. A torn ACL and meniscus landed him in the operating room with Aspirus Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Mark Kelley. His healing journey continued with Cindy Hinkel, PTA, and Sarah VerBerkmoes, MSPT, at Aspirus Outpatient Therapies.

“I couldn't believe the immediate results I had after surgery,” he said. “I am so grateful for everyone who worked with me over the past 12 months.”

Greg is living life to the fullest

Because of the many positive experiences Greg has had along the way, he highly recommends all of his family and friends to go to Aspirus for their care.

“I really appreciate being able to have honest, open conversations with the nurses and doctors without judgement, and receive the best care possible,” Greg said. “Despite living with cystic fibrosis, I’m able to be 30 years old and have the stamina to work a full-time job, play volleyball, and live life to the fullest without my health holding me back.”