A few weeks ago I was asked to contribute a story to a winter and Christmas themed anthology a group of writers I’d met on Facebook and Twitter – The Write Romantics – are putting together. When I heard that proceeds are to go to the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust I agreed immediately. Teenage cancer has been in the news a lot recently, thanks to the amazing Stephen Sutton, and cystic fibrosis holds a very special memory for me.
When I was a student physiotherapist in a Glasgow hospital, I met Oliver. He was sixteen and he had cystic fibrosis. Three times a day I had to help him drain the mucus from his lungs, green, foul-smelling gunge that he would spit into a cardboard carton. It wasn’t pretty. Sometimes he felt well enough to chat afterwards and we would compare favourite books and music, and he would ask what I’d been doing at the weekend. He’d never been well enough to go ‘out’ on a Saturday night but oh, he’d have loved to.
Back then, cystic fibrosis was a death sentence and Oliver was right at the top end of life expectancy with the disease. I was only a few years older and could hardly believe he’d be dead soon; it seemed too cruel to be true. He wanted to travel, to see New York and Paris; he wanted to go to the Hebrides and Lindisfarne and the Isle of Man.
But just a few weeks after my rotation in his ward ended I heard he had died, at home in Glasgow. Nowadays of course CF kids live much, much longer. Research is ongoing, treatment is improving all the time – but there’s still a long way to go.
I’d like to thank the Write Romantics for allowing me to be a part of this. The anthology will be out in November, and we’ll be informing everyone about its progress and where to buy it etc. AND – there’s a competition – the Write Romantics are looking for a name for the anthology – click here for details of how to enter!
Competition over now! The winning name is: Winter Tales – stories to warm your heart