Five Feet Apart: the most accurate on-screen portrayal of cystic fibrosis yet

There are some spoilers at the end of this piece. There’s a warning before them in the text.

Warning: I also allow the filmmakers some artistic licence, which may be unpopular, but sue me, I’m a filmmaker.

Five Feet Apart is a fantastic film.

Five Feet Apart is a terrible film.

You’ll love Five Feet Apart.

You’ll hate Five Feet Apart.

But what Five Feet Apart provides is the most accurate on-screen portrayal of cystic fibrosis (CF) that I’ve ever seen. Of course there are little things (and one major thing) that don’t quite ring true, but those are few…


I’ve had the most amazing reaction to my Instagram / blog post about my recent battle with depression. People have been incredibly kind and loving. A few have mentioned how ‘brave’ it is for me to share. But I don’t see that at all.

My whole career has been built around storytelling, and telling people how important it is to tell stories. I believe in them so strongly because of their power to create change. But that change only happens when the stories ring true.

It’s not easy to be vulnerable and talk about these things when you don’t know…


Why mental health — and not being ok — must never slip from our minds.

I originally shared the post below on my Instagram account, a place where for some reason I find it easier to be honest and open than other places, even if the authoring experience is a little trickier than other places. Reviewing it (and the comments) this morning, I realised I needed to share it more widely because it’s important. More on that after the Instagram post.

Let’s just put it out there: the first four months of 2018 have been — almost without exception — spectacularly unkind and unhelpful.

Physical illness, accidents, stress, anxiety, mental health problems and depressive diagnoses…


For years now (more than a decade, in fact), I’ve lived by the Smile Through It mantra. No matter what happens in life, you can always find one thing each day that makes you smile and hold on to that one thing as a sign that things will get better.

This week, for the first time in a long time, that mantra no longer reigns. For the first time in a long time, I’m not OK.

And this is something I need to share because in this world of heavily filtered, idealised lives that we all share online it’s too…


There are two people who define my transplant journey: one went through the process about six months ahead of me and the other three years after. I have outlived them both.

No one can say I’m still here when neither Emily or Kirstie are, but they will always live on in the hearts of the many, many people they touched.

I didn’t know Kirstie before her documentary was broadcast, but through the amazing CF community and the work we both did to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and organ donation our paths began to cross and we became friends — or, I suppose, correspondents.

We would text each other when either of us was admitted to Harefield hospital and we’d share morale support when we needed it. …


Photo credit: Theophilos Papadopoulos on Flickr

It may seem strange to some people, but I’m genuinely grateful for having cystic fibrosis.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wake up in the morning, leap out of bed and proclaim to the world, “What a wonderful morning,my lungs are going to kill me!”

But the most formative and transformative experiences of my life have happened only because of this condition.

CF has taught me the true meaning of friendship

When I was at school, probably only 11 or 12 years-old, and I told a new person I’d met that I had CF, she went away to the library (yes, I’m so old she couldn’t Google it) and…


Photo credit: Michael on Flickr.

People with cystic fibrosis spend an extraordinary amount of time in hospital, either visiting briefly for a quick once-over in out-patients, or for longer in-patient stays for intensive courses of treatment.

And whatever anyone else says about the NHS, I can confidently say that my medical team are some of my best friends in the world.

There were periods of my life when I spent more time with my CF team than with my friends, when the people I confided in most were my nurses and physios, and when I felt like they were the only people who understood me.


Photo credit: Zooey on Flickr

Earlier this week, Ciara shared this video explaining cystic fibrosis in which she not only covers what CF is, but also the effects it has on people.

From the lungs (which most people know about), to the pancreas and stomach (which some people know about), all the way through to CF-related diabetes, osteoporosis (brittle bones) and more (which most people don’t know about).

She also touched on a really important point that affects most people with CF (in my experience at least):

CF is not just physical

It’s tough growing up knowing you’re likely to die much younger than your friends. It’s tough to be…


Photo credit: Felipe Bastos on Flickr

Take a moment to imagine your best friend. The person who truly understands you, who you can be totally yourself with. Take a moment to summon up all the memories you share together, good and bad, highs and lows, peaks and troughs.

Take a moment to imagine you’ve been diagnosed with a health problem. Doesn’t have to be life-threatening, don’t bum yourself out. What would you do? Go online, probably. Google around. …


This week is CF Week 2016 — the UK-based awareness week that coincides with the global CF Awareness month.

I intended to re-start the Smile Through It videos again this week, filming and uploading a daily vlog to cover five things you may not know about cystic fibrosis (CF). Yesterday, I realised just how unrealistic that was, given that recently I’ve been battling through some real energy crashes in the evenings, which is when I would need to focus my creative energies on producing the vlog.

This leads me to thing number one that you might not know about cystic…

Oli Lewington

Write. Speak. Create. Inspire. I breathe with new lungs as of 2007. Life is more than we ever thought it could be; don’t let it slip away, do something bold.

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