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cystic fibrosis awareness

Book Review: Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

I read this book in memory of my best friend who passed away last month in her battle against cystic fibrosis, which I recently shared here on my blog. It’s based off a screenplay by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis and chronicles the story of Stella and Will, two teenagers struggling in their battle against cystic fibrosis but for different reasons. While Stella is doing everything she can to keep her health in order so that she can get a lung transplant, Will is tired of going from hospital to hospital and is doing the best he can to live his life to the fullest. They fall in love with each other, but they must stay six feet apart in order not to jeopardize each other’s health, which feels like punishment to them both.

What I loved about reading Five Feet Apart is that this story brings awareness to cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects so many people in the world and currently doesn’t have a cure. I especially love that the story brings up information about cystic fibrosis people who don’t have the disease might not know, such as that people with cystic fibrosis can’t get too close to each other because of the risk of catching bacterial infections. While I had a very good friend who had cystic fibrosis, there are still some things I myself don’t know about the disease and I felt like this book brought that information to my attention. For that reason alone, I appreciate this book because it brought about awareness for a terrible disease that deeply impacted the life of someone I truly cared for.

I also enjoyed reading this book because I love the characters and the shifting points of view between the two protagonists, Stella, and Will. What made the characters in this book so sympathetic and real to me was seeing how they each handled their current predicament. For Stella, she focused on being well for the sake of her two parents whose marriage crumbled due to a devastating loss that shook the foundation of their family. Will, on the other hand, was more focused on getting out of the hospital and being able to live his life to the fullest since he was dying anyway. He was tired of spending all of his days in the hospital and couldn’t wait to turn eighteen so he could be done with hospital stays for good. I felt myself cheering these two young teens on as they struggled with being together while keeping their own safety in mind.

What I especially loved about reading Five Feet Apart is that it had an emotional impact on me. I know part of that is due to what happened with my friend, and reading a story with characters dealing with the same disease brought those emotions to the forefront. But I also know it’s due too because the story itself moved me. It felt like it was the right book for me to read at the right time.

But at the same time, there are some issues I had with the story itself too that I do need to bring up. For starters, I wasn’t fond of the instant-love that happened between Stella and Will. It’s a common troupe you see in young adult literature that I feel gets overused too much and I was sad to see it in this book too. While I understand why the connection starts, I felt like it was a little unrealistic in this story because of what these characters are dealing with.

I also wonder slightly about the accuracy of cystic fibrosis in this book. While I personally knew someone with the disease so I already knew some of the information that was brought up in the story, there were some details I was unsure of. I don’t have cystic fibrosis so I know I can’t speak for those who do, but if there’s inaccuracy in this book, it would be nice to know for sure. Unfortunately, the person who I’d speak to about this is no longer here to talk to about this book with.

This brings up another separate issue itself that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the book but that I feel I need to talk about anyway. I honestly wish I’d read this book sooner before my friend passed away. Or that we both could read it so we could talk about it with each other. I know she probably would’ve loved to do that (especially since there’s a movie coming out later this month, and she’s the one who mentioned wanting to see it) and I would be able to pick her mind about the way those with cystic fibrosis are represented in the story. So for me reading this story was pretty bittersweet because it reminded me of my friend’s desire to go and see the movie, which I also plan on doing too.

Overall, I love this book as a whole and give it four stars despite several issues I had with it. I find that I can’t give this book a lower rating because awareness of cystic fibrosis is important to me and I appreciate that this book attempts to bring this illness to people’s attention. It might not be done correctly, but I appreciate the effort and the story had a strong emotional impact on me that I can’t simply ignore. This book will forever hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of a dear friend. I also can’t wait to see the movie no matter how sad not getting to see it with her will make me.

I highly recommend this story to those interested in learning more about cystic fibrosis and anyone interested in health as a collective whole. I also recommend this book to those who enjoy a good young adult romance like I sometimes do and want to read a story with sympathetic characters.

I’ve included the trailer in this post below for those interested in going to see the movie like I am so you can have an even better idea of the story I just finished reading.

 

Grieving the Loss of a Dear Friend

Erin and I Great Strides Walk May 2017

My heart feels so shattered right now. This week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. My best friend, who I’ve known since my freshman year of high school, passed away on Wednesday, February 13th. She was fighting for her life against cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects a person’s lungs and their ability to breathe, the pancreas and other parts of their body.

While I knew this day would eventually come (people with cystic fibrosis don’t have a long life span, most nowadays live until their 30’s and there’s still no cure), it still doesn’t make it any less hard for me to deal with the grief I’ve been experiencing since her passing. She was a good friend, someone I truly trusted with all my heart and soul, who cared a lot about everyone she encountered. She was strong too, always putting on a brave face even when she was in pain fighting against this terrible disease. In our friendship, I always felt like I could truly be myself around her and could talk to her about anything and everything.

She was the best friend I could ever ask for. It feels like just yesterday we were talking and creating memories together. I remember moments from high school, like some of the classes we had together and when we’d eat lunch on the senior balcony during senior year. Also, recent moments too from during and after I was done in college, like when we went to the zoo together with her oldest son, went to the beach with another friend because she loved the ocean, and whenever I went with her when she decided she wanted tattoos. There are so many other moments that stand out to me in our friendship, but these are some of the best ones. Now, she’s no longer here and I feel like a piece of me went with her when she passed away.

Erin and I At the Zoo June 2014

I know the next few weeks will be extremely difficult for everyone she cares about. She’s left behind so many good people who care so much about her along with a wonderful husband and her two young children who’ll now live without a mother. But I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have met her and know that our friendship will always hold a special place in my heart. I know one day, I’ll get to meet her again very soon, and that lessens the pain of her loss. Until then best friend, I want you to know I love you so much and can’t wait to see you again.

If you’re reading this post, if you can, please donate to the Go Fund Me page me and a couple of her friends have set up to help her husband and kids during this difficult time or donate to your local cystic fibrosis organization in honor of my best friend’s memory.

My heart is hurting, but I’m glad my dear friend isn’t suffering anymore.

If We Were Having Coffee: Surviving Sickness

If We Were Having Coffee Image Three

If we were having coffee, I’d once again apologize for my continued lack of recent blog posts. This time though, it really isn’t something within my control. For the past week (since last Thursday, not this one) I’ve been feeling quite under the weather. I’ve been dealing with a lot of neck and head pain that hasn’t completely gone away. I don’t know where this pain stems from and what caused it to occur, but it’s really starting to get old real fast. It’s gotten better since it first started. But it’s still there, hanging on, not wanting to completely disappear. I’ll start feeling better, almost as if it’s going to completely vanish. But then I’ll wake up the next day, my neck sore as ever, my head throbbing as if I got run over by a bus. But then as the day goes on, the pain gets less and less until it’s a dull pain. I’ll be excited, thinking I finally beat this thing only to discover when I’m in bed that the pain is back, stronger than ever. So then when I wake up for the day, I’ll come downstairs and lay on our couch in the hopes of shaking it off. It helps make the pain more bearable for me but once I go to bed—the pain returns.

But the problem is I don’t know what’s causing this pain. My family and I each have conclusions of our own based on what I’ve been experiencing. I really think it could be my bed causing all of these problems since my head and neck pain seems to get worse every time I wake up in the morning. However, I’m not an expert by any means when it comes to head and neck pain. So I won’t know for sure until I go to the doctor to find out what’s going on with me. Hopefully, that’ll happen soon so that I can find out what’s going on and make sure I’m treating this correctly.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that even though I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve been trying the best I can to make the most of it. I’ve been spending most of my time chilling at home. I haven’t really gotten too many job applications or anything done because of how I’ve been feeling. Though I did get an email from one of the companies I applied for a position with. They had some additional questions for me about my experience that they needed me to answer before later on talking about setting up a phone interview. The position is with the company I work for now, but is more of a job in my field and I’d get paid more. I’d also have to move because the position isn’t in the state I live in now. But until I have the phone interview, I can’t get my hopes up yet that I’ll get the position. I also finished reading Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation. It was a very satisfying read that reminded me so much of my childhood where I spent a lot of time playing video games on my Sega, Nintendo, SNES, and PlayStation 2, all of which are systems I still have with me. And then started reading Ready Player One, which so far is a pretty enjoyable read too. Even though there are some things with the story I’m still unsure of yet. Just going to wait until I finish reading the book though before I make a judgment call.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you last Saturday, I went on a Cystic Fibrosis walk with my best friend. Even though I wasn’t feeling so hot, I already committed to going on this walk and it was for a good cause. For those unfamiliar with Cystic Fibrosis, it is a genetic born disease that limits a person’s ability to breathe over time. It also causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs, which can cause infections, extensive lung damage, respiratory failure, and prevent the release of digestive enzymes, which allows the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an organization whose mission is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives. My best friend has been dealing with this disease her whole life. So even though I wasn’t feeling so great after the walk, I did this for her and to help others who have to deal with this horrible disease. And it was a lot of fun because not only did I get to see my best friend, but I also got to walk, which is a form of exercise I really enjoy. And that’s what really matters, being surrounded by people whose company you enjoy and doing something you love.

If we were having coffee, I’d also inform you I have some really good news. My sister has finally gotten a job in her field!  I have one older sister who graduated from college a year before I did with a degree in Bioengineering. She’s been looking for a job in her field for two years now, but has been working for one of our school districts as an assistant secretary for one of the coaches. So I know she’s very happy about it, even though it means she’ll be moving away from Mom and I into another state six hours away.  We celebrated by going out to our favorite Mexican place for dinner once she accepted the position. But next weekend, we shall hopefully be moving her into her new place. She’s been communicating with a friend of her friends about being roommates and it’s been stressing her out because the friend won’t be ready to move from her current place until a month after my sister needs to be there and my sister doesn’t want to spend a month at her friend’s place. So she’s been dealing with a lot of stress from that, but I’m hoping everything will work out okay for her.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that’s really all I have been up to besides lounging at home. I know today will be our last Zumba class with our Sunday instructor. She’s got such a busy schedule and I only go to the gym on Sundays because guests are allowed to go to the gym on the weekends for free. But I probably won’t be going because my neck is still sore and I don’t want to do anything to hurt myself. Also a friend of Mom’s is having a cookout at her place tonight so I’ll be going to that. It’s raining here though so we’ll definitely be cooking everything indoors instead. So I guess it’s time for me to go. I hope you’ve been having a good week and I’ll talk to you later, dear friend.

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