How Five Feet Apart — a story about Cystic Fibrosis – is relevant today

BY: HILARY PEARSON

One thing most of us have learnt during this pandemic: germs can spread as far as six feet when someone coughs or sneezes. They can land on surfaces, such as a doorknob, or in another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth. That’s why social distancing guidelines state we should be standing six feet apart to limit the spread of the Corona virus.

For people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), social distancing has always been a way of life. Being close to others with the disease puts them at increased risk of getting and spreading dangerous germs and bacteria, a term referred to as cross‐infection. Not only are these dangerous germs difficult to treat, but they can lead to worsening symptoms and faster decline in lung function for those with CF.Physical Distancing

That’s why it’s important for people with CF to stay at least six feet away from others with CF and anyone with a cold, flu, or infection.

I’ve listened to this audiobook, Five Feet Apart, a few times now.

Stella Grant— a teen living with CF — describes her experience living with chronic illness:  

“Counting out exact doses of multiple medications. Being extra careful to not forget one. Careful to not accidentally overdose. Careful to take them at the specified time. Missing out on social events due to a flare up of symptoms. Going to the hospital because of catching a cold. … We’re basically doctors by the age of twelve.”

I feel this. All the work that goes into my fight with my disability. Chronic pain. Chronic fatigue. Chronic migraines. Chronic asthma. Memory loss. Aphasia. Photophobia. Phonophobia. Post concussion syndrome. Brain damage.

I can’t begin to understand what CF individuals have to go through. I don’t know their fight. But I can begin to connect with the things we feel. Like the isolation. The complicated relationships. The chronic everything.  

Even if you don’t have a chronic condition, I still recommend reading this book.  

We are all fighting in this pandemic. We can all begin to relate to those who need to always keep social distancing in mind.

We can all begin to see each other.


Hilary is a Toronto-based non-fiction writer and UofT master’s student. Hilary is recovering from TBI, PCS— and spends much of her free time on FaceTime with Isla, her baby niece.”

This post originally appeared on her Instagram, @halite_brain_beads