Ivor Lewin writes:
I strongly recommend a book called ‘Breathing for a Living’ by Laura Rothenburg, Hyperion Books. It is memoir written by a cystic fibrosis sufferer who died while at Brown University. It is very well written in a style expected from a teenager/uni student and differs from most of the illness memoirs for a number of notable reasons. IT IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT CANCER! It is not a triumphant “I fought the disease and won” rant nor is it a “Terrible news: I’m going to die” book either. It is unique in that the author has known and been aware of her disease from the moment of consciousness and more importantly knows that she is going to have a short life in which she may die at any moment. Her writing documents her largely successful attempts to live a normal life of a teenager while experiencing repeated long term hospitalisations and latterly the agonising wait for and ultimately successful although futile heart/lung transplant. Most of her friends were also CF sufferers whom she had to cope with outliving. Although the book does have weaknesses (the eulogies at the end are rather American and don’t really do it for me and also her final chronic rejection resulting in her death is not mentioned at all) it is definitely worth a read. Furthermore the educational value of this book in teaching about CF is useful for any medical student in a way that we have cancer rammed down us the whole time!