NO, REALLY: On this near perfect day, all I hear is the coughing

It’s startling when your perspective is changed in a split second

It’s startling when your perspective is changed in a split second.

There we were, a couple hundred people gathered outside Penfield School on Sunday morning for the annual Great Strides walk to support cystic fibrosis research. I took photos and watched as people talked, laughed and hugged as they awaited the 11 a.m. start. And it was a glorious morning too. The sunshine and warmth felt great; a nice change from the cool and wet weather we’ve had since…last September?

“I won’t be needing this today,” said retired firefighter Les Ready as pulled off his sweater.

Yes, it felt good and then I spotted someone I haven’t seen for quite some time. There was Kim Wood (nee Black), accompanied by her husband James. It was marvelous seeing them together on this wonderful day.

It was just a few years ago they were married here in Campbell River. And then, a month after they exchanged rings, James was seriously injured in a vehicle rollover near Winnipeg after the driver fell asleep at the wheel. One person was killed and James was left in a coma. Thankfully, he survived. And here they were now, smiling, happy and looking marvelous – you would never have guessed that he survived a near-fatal accident and that she lives with a life-threatening disease which is cystic fibrosis.

I first took photos of Kim when she was just a kid. She was our local “poster girl” for cystic fibrosis awareness and fundraising campaigns.

That “torch” has now been passed to young Sylvanna Denroche, who also lives with cystic fibrosis. Sylvanna was also there along with Amethyst Hamersly who simply says, “CF sucks.”

Anyhow, I started taking pictures of Kim as the warm-up began. I thought it would be nice for the people of Campbell River to see her again, all grown up and looking great.

She stretched right, left, touched her toes…and then she stopped. As everyone else continued stretching, Kim started coughing. It was just a brief spell and she immediately got back into the warm-up, but that one little incident hit me like a brick. This is the cough that won’t go away. This is the cough that only hints at the other lung symptoms that could one day threaten her life. Then I remembered Amethyst coughing too as her mother Anna spoke about this terrible affliction.

Shortly later, little Sylvanna ran with her friends, ahead of the other walkers, before stopping to cough.

It’s the cough that kills and it doesn’t seem fair at all. Sylvanna deserves to run and play with her friends; Amethyst deserves to grow into a young woman; and Kim deserves to be loved and spoiled by her husband.

I hope this all happens for all three of them and I can only hope a cure is found for cystic fibrosis. To learn more, check out Kim’s blog: livelovebreathebykim.blogspot.com