Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)
By Alyssa Flanagan and Dolores Libera

Alyssa Flanagan’s an AANMA hero whose story goes to the heart of why we’re here — she went from being at death’s door to saving lives.

Alyssa was in and out of hospitals and struggling to breathe when her mom, Dolores Libera, found AANMA — and got their lives back. We’ve grown up with Alyssa, who worked at AANMA some summers in high school and college. Now she’s completing an academic fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago after finishing her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics. We couldn’t be prouder.

Mom and daughter share college-prep tips to help students with asthma and their parents breathe easier:

Alyssa: “Before I went off to live in the dorms, we made sure I had updated prescriptions and medications and complete records for the student health office. We cleaned the dorm room as best we could before I moved in. I had my own dust-mite-proof pillow and mattress encasings and tried not to bring too much extra clutter with me — but I did bring my air filter!

Sometimes there’s not a lot of flexibility in housing options, but they were pretty responsive at my college. If someone had severe food allergies they could get an apartment with a kitchen, and the college allowed an air-conditioning unit if the person had severe outdoor allergies.

A doctor’s letter was required, so if you need special arrangements, it’s best to prepare early.”

Dolores: “I did a lot of homework. While Alyssa was looking into academics, I was researching those colleges’ health facilities and where the closest hospital was! Her suitemates and everyone in the dorm were supportive. They would all get flu shots. And yes, we thoroughly cleaned her room at the beginning of each year. But I worried most about what happened outside her living space — such as being around people smoking at parties. Basically, you have to do your homework both before and after you choose a college.”