When did you two meet and when did you find out your partner had CF?
Jo – We met for the first time at a friend’s wedding about 11 years ago in Albany. It actually wasn’t until I moved to Perth a year or so after that we started spending time together. I found out Gary had CF a couple of months before we started dating. I was living with his best friend who told me he had it. No one actually told me what CF was as at the time Gary was none too fond of people knowing he had it.
Gary – As above at a friends wedding but it wasn’t until Jo moved to Perth that we started spending more time with each other. I can’t recall when we first discussed it, but I usually didn’t share it with too many people until they maybe asked why I always had a cold or similar.
What about with work? Do you tell them about CF?
Jo – My work is fully aware Gary has CF. They are very supportive of both Gary and I. Any chance my boss gets to donate to a charity he chooses CFWA in support of Gary which I could not thank him enough for.
Gary – I have told some members of my work mates, but generally I try to keep it private until it needs to be revealed (i.e hospital visit). I like to work and show my strengths in my own light without people taking views either negatively (or sometimes positively) if they know I have CF. Most to be honest wouldn’t have a clue what it is anyhow. I have luckily been able to work full time for the vast majority of my working life so far, using mostly sick days with the occasional annual leave days to cover hospital visits.
Has having CF impacted on the way you have gone into this relationship?
Jo – It did to start with. For the first few months we were dating, Gary kept trying to give me “outs”. Once I rejected these on numerous occasions I think he then realised I wasn’t going anywhere, and we began to plan the future together.
Gary – I am always cautious, but also, during our first few years I had a very serious hospital visit which changed my view and had to make sure Jo was prepared for the journey ahead.
Did you worry about meeting your partner’s parents and how your partners parents would react when they found out you had CF?
Gary – Not at all. I felt totally comfortable from day one. I assume Jo had briefed them, plus they had done a bit of research I think.
What was your wedding day like?
Jo – It was everything we wanted and more, surrounded by 130 friends and family who love and support us unconditionally. We had the ceremony looking back over the harbour in Albany where we both grew up, and partied the night away.
Gary – A very awesome experience but a busy one! I felt the day went way too quickly, but still enjoyed every minute of it. As Jo has said, everything we wanted plus more.
What plans do you have for the future?
Jo – We have recently bought a house so moving into that and beginning to make our house a home; we are also planning a holiday to the US (which got put on hold when we purchased the house). We do have plans for children in the future, however, as we have been told our only option would be IVF this is something we are going to plan well for.
Gary – After my serious hospital visit I was very cautious about committing to a large commitment such as a house, and has taken me many years to realise, life is life and could be gone quickly, or I could live another 30 years (or more!). There is no need to worry right now. As per above is our main immediate plans.
Any advice for balancing CF and relationships for other couples and others seeking a partner?
Jo – Communication is key; be honest to yourself and your partner. It took a long time for Gary to not only admit to himself when he wasn’t feeling right, but to also let me know how he was feeling on a daily basis. He is now a lot more open and honest, and if something isn’t right he will let me know and go and get it checked.
Gary – Be as honest as you can. If someone doesn’t like you because of your illness, then that’s not the person you want to be with anyhow. There is plenty of people that will love you for you. Jo has also opened me up to being more honest with friends and family, making EVERYTHING easier. I am forever in her debt for this very valuable advice/help.
Article from RED Magazine, Autumn 2013.