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Movie with a Message: Breathe

When “in sickness and in health, & for better for worse, becomes your reality.”

We love covering movies here on Let’s Talk Nation that are inspirational. From underdog stories to superhero and to romance films, our aim here is to bring you entertainment, which is not only entertaining, but also inspiring. I am a big lover of romance movies ( Hello! self proclaimed hopeful romantic here!), and mostly just watch them because I want to see two people fall in love. These stories usually start off as boy meets girl, boy may not be in girl’s league, but girl wants boy, and girl's family doesn’t want boy. Boy then fights for girl and they end up together and sail into the sunset, living happily ever after. Cheesy right?

Now there are movies I have watched in recent times that have debunked my idea of what true love really is. Their love stories transcends beyond the physical and material and also runs deep. Today's movie, Breathe is one of them. When I was done watching this incredible piece, I was in awe. I prayed that I would never find myself in that kind of situation, but at the same time, hoped that if life throws me an unexpected curve-ball, I would have enough love like the woman in this movie did for her husband, to stand the test of time. And will also love for a spouse to love me beyond my physicality. Now let’s see why Breathe is a Movie with a Message, Let’s talk!

Based on a true life story (our favorites!), Robin Cavendish, portrayed by the amazing Andrew Garfield, was a young British man living in the 1950’s. One random day he met and fell for the love of his life, Diana (Claire Foy, an incredible actress). Diana had twin brothers who tried to talk her out of marrying Mr. Robin, but she was convinced that he was the one for her. The pair eventually tied the knot, and jetted off to Kenya, for what seemed like an adventure of a lifetime, which would change the trajectory of their lives forever.

When all hell breaks loose

Diana loved supporting her husband in all that he did, she enjoyed being by his side. After a couple of days in Kenya, she revealed to her husband that she was pregnant, and he was thrilled. One day he was out playing lawn tennis with his friends when he began to feel dizzy. After the game of tennis, and a brief stint at hula hooping, he went to his wife, and collapsed by her side, lightly complaining of joint aches. Diana was worried but he jokingly brushed it off as the pregnancy weighing on him.

Later on that night he couldn't sleep and was sweating profusely, he staggered into the hallway and told one of his friends that he wasn't feeling too good, and fell to the ground. While being examined by a doctor, it was found that he had contracted polio, he was just 28 years old. Polio at the time was a deadly disease, usually dominant in third world countries that affects the spinal cord. You could become prone to this disease if not properly vaccinated as a child. He inhaled the virus from the air and became paralyzed, not being able to breathe for himself without a respirator. The doctors revealed to Diana, that her husband just had a matter of months to live.

Diana was such a strong woman and refused to leave Kenya, without her baby being born. She believed after her child’s birth, that her, her husband and their baby would return to the United Kingdom, and people thought she was crazy. Her faith was so relentless; she wasn’t going to give up on her lover, just like that. Although the movie didn’t capitalize on her being a person of faith, her fighter’s spirit reminded me of something my pastor said one day in church. He said “The doctors are there to give you facts, and figure out how they can help you become better, regardless of the facts. But as believers, we should never let the facts, taint the truth God has given us in His word, which is by His stripes we are healed.”

Diana had more faith that her husband would get better, than her husband himself. He wanted to die, and I did not blame him for that mindset; because he was immobile and was confined to a bed. His speech was impaired, he also had to depend on others to care for him. This was without a doubt difficult. He was depressed, he didn’t want to continue living the way he was; he couldn’t bear to even look at his own son. He felt God was no good, for allowing him to be in the condition that he was in. Sometimes when we find ourselves in trying situations, it becomes very easy to blame God, it seems like He may have failed us when something terribly goes wrong. We've all had that feeling.

But Robin failed to see the gift that God blessed him with, which was his wife, who was unfailingly by his side. Some women will run at the first sight of trouble, in fact, he would have died almost immediately, if not for her tenacity. One day she came to see him, and he asked "why do you keep coming here?” to which she answered “I don’t really know, and apparently, I love you" she had a sense of humor even in their storm. She wanted him to stick around so he would know their son, Jonathan. She also felt she could make life a little better for him.

A New Normal

He wanted to leave the hospital and asked his wife to get him out of there. So She went to speak with his doctor, who was so mean at telling her that her husband wouldn't survive outside the hospital, and would die within minutes if his breathing machine failed. She left those facts, the doctor had informed her with at the doctor's office and went on to start making plans to get her husband out of the hospital. She asked a nurse to show her how to take care of her husband and bought a bigger house that would accommodate them and their circumstance.

So with the help of another doctor and some nurses, they snuck him out of the hospital. His doctor found out and caught up with them outside, he was so mad, that he uttered: "you will be dead in two weeks.” They still left, not minding what the doctor said. They had a whole village of people who came to help him settle into his new normal. People who loved and cared for him.

Because of his wife's bravery, Robin was able to watch his child grow, have great memories traveling the world with his family and friends, and also worked with his friends to provide wheelchairs with respirators which ran on batteries, for other disabled people who were bound in hospitals at the time. So even in his adversity, he was able to make a difference.

"I don't want to survive, I want to truly live." Robin Cavendish, Breathe movie

The most amazing part was, someone who was initially given months to live, and two weeks after he left the hospital, was then able to live for 36 years after his diagnosis. At the age of 64, when he passed away, he was termed a medical phenomenon, having to be one of the longest-living polio survivors in the UK, at the time.

The real Robin Cavendish, Image courtesy of CS disabled Holidays

“To know Robin Cavendish was to know the personification of courage. Many people achieve moments of great courage, few are called on to show it continuously for 36 years.”

The above quote was taken out of his obituary, which I love. It shows the courage Mr. Robin had throughout his life. I know I stated earlier “the most amazing part…” But what was truly amazing, apart from his prolonged life, was that his son Jonathan, became a film producer, and together with a great team of people, chose to tell his parents love story in such a spectacular way. I also believe, he was able to tell this story, because he lived it out with his parents. Jonathan Cavendish has movies like The Bridget Jones Diary to his credit.

His mom, Diana Cavendish never remarried after her husband passed away, and she is now a grandmother to triplets. She dedicated her life, to keep fighting for those who are disabled, to give them a better life. The Cavendish family provides grants to people and organizations for saving the lives of those who are disabled. Together with their trustees, they now provide funding towards holidays and respite breaks for adults with severe physical disabilities, through the CS disabled holidays, named after Robin Cavendish and inspirational doctor, Geoffrey Spencer, who pioneered the cause of holidays for the severely disabled.

The real Robin & Diana Cavendish, Image courtesy of Breathe Movie

Lessons Learned

Don’t give up; life is full of curve balls, there is no escaping it. What you do in those circumstances would determine how well you can bounce back. Diana Cavendish never gave up on her husband, she lived out this part of the marriage vows; “for better for worse, in sickness and in health" and then she added a new twist to it when she did not remarry after her husband's death. She was the definition of faithful and what love really is! I don't know where she got her strength from. Because of her not giving up, her husband was not just able to live but was also able to make a difference, while he was alive.

Surround yourself with people who will fight for you when you can’t fight for yourself; this point here, reminded me of a story which can be found in the bible (Mark 2). Jesus was teaching at a certain location and the venue was packed, there was no space to get in through the entrance. So a group of four friends heard Jesus was in town and decided to carry their paralytic friend to Him for healing. On getting there, since they couldn't gain entry through the main entrance, they ripped off the roof of the building (I wonder who paid for that afterward) and lowered their friend to the front of Jesus.

You can imagine the strategy that was involved, they scouted the area, and calculated where exactly Jesus would be, and got their friend to Him. Jesus upon seeing their action (faith) instantly healed the man. If the paralyzed man’s friends, didn’t take the initiative to fight for him, maybe he would have never been healed.

Robin had such people around him, first his wife, their son, then his wife's brothers and his friends. They made life easier for him, they took turns for hours manually pumping his respirator when someone mistakenly plugged it in the wrong socket and blew the fuse, until they were able to fix it. They made sure he traveled across Europe making a difference, and they stood by his wife when she didn't have the strength to carry on, by herself. Having this great village of people around him also helped prolong his life, even when he wanted to give up.

The real Robin & his friends, Image courtesy of Breathe Movie

Let your faith be bigger than the facts; Fact is faith is very important, faith is what will carry you through the most difficult seasons in life. Diana didn’t let the naysayers deter the vision that she had for herself and her family. In fact, she didn't even let her husband's lack of faith, in the beginning, stop her from believing in the fact that he could have a better life outside of the hospital. She had one goal, and one goal in mind only, which was to let Jonathan know his father. I believe that is what led to their incredible story being told on the silver screen so brilliantly because he experienced their love in real time.

Sometimes the things we face in life may not be pleasant, but when we get out of the mourning phase, and truly see it for what it is, then we can begin to make lemonade out of the lemons life throws at us. That is where true victory can be found. I pray that God blesses good men, with women like Diana Cavendish, and also pray that women will be blessed with men who will be faithful to the end as well.

This film was released back in November of 2017; it was directed by actor Andy Serkis (The Avengers, Black Panther), produced by Robin & Diana’s son, Jonathan Cavendish and written by William Nicholson (The Gladiator).

You can learn more about the Cavendish’s by visiting their website Enjoy the trailer of the movie below, and watch the film to learn more about why it is a movie with a message.

Official Trailer for Breathe movie, Zero Media's Youtube account

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