Jamie Maria Ferber, 27, therapist, advocate for cystic fibrosis patients

January 11, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Jamie Maria Ferber, a respiratory therapist and advocate for cystic fibrosis patients, died of that disease Sunday at St. Luke's Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. A resident of Inverness, Fla., she lived in Sparks until last year. She was 27.

During her second pregnancy, Mrs. Ferber was featured on the ABC News documentary Hopkins: 24/7, filmed nearly two years ago. As a child, she appeared on posters promoting awareness of cystic fibrosis.

Born Jamie Maria Mick in Broadway, Va., she attended Eastern Mennonite High School in Harrisonburg, Va., before earning joint degrees in psychology and respiratory therapy from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.

Shortly after her college graduation, she began working as a respiratory therapist at the University of Maryland. Later, she was a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist at Harbor Hospital.

"She was first diagnosed with CF at 3 months and given six years to live," said Dr. Laurence Ferber, a surgeon and her husband since 1999. "Jamie's life became a testament to her sheer strength of will."

Mrs. Ferber counseled cystic fibrosis patients and advised them on ways to build their strength. She was on a patient panel during Johns Hopkins Hospital's yearly cystic fibrosis conference and gave several lectures on her condition at Shenandoah University's School of Pharmacy.

"She was charismatic. She was incredibly determined. She worked hard to care for herself, her kids and her husband, and to be an example to others with cystic fibrosis," said Dr. Michael P. Boyle, director of the adult cystic fibrosis program at Johns Hopkins.

"We take 150 adults, and frequently I hear, `I spoke to Jamie. She was an example of how to live life to the fullest.' She could encourage others, even as she was facing challenges herself," he said.

Friends remembered Mrs. Ferber as a "whirlwind of activity" who rode horses and her Yamaha 400 motorcycle.

"She was a picture of what you can do with CF," said Dr. Boyle, her physician. "A lot of our young women with CF would look at her and say, `Hey, I can have a family, be active and be a mom.' They saw her as an example."

To keep up her strength, Mrs. Ferber worked out daily at the Maryland Athletic Center in Timonium, where she made a number of friends.

"She was a bright star. She always believed there would be another tomorrow," said Hope Wilkerson Pezzulla, a friend who lives in Parkton. "She was a powerhouse. If she was having a bad time, she would be on an IV hookup, still doing her exercise and jogging on a treadmill. CF never kept her down or encumbered her."

For three summers, Mrs. Ferber was a counselor at Holiday Trails, a camp for children with special health needs near Charlottesville, Va.

Services will held at 1 p.m. today at Sunset Drive United Methodist Church in Broadway.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Desirae Whitney Ferber, 4, and Isadora Sky Ferber, 2, both of Inverness; her mother, Gaye Stayner Conner; her stepfather, Roger Conner of Broadway; two sisters, Lisa Mick DeNitto of Chesapeake Beach and Angela Renee Mick of Inverness.; and a brother, Greg Charles Mick of Lynchburg, Va. Her father, Charles Mick, died in 1999.

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