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Local Cystic Fibrosis Patients Look Forward To Movie, Warn Others To Stay ‘Five Feet Apart’

Curtis Higgons
Curtis Higgons

A movie that opened nationwide in theatres Friday depicts what it’s like to live with cystic fibrosis.

“Five Feet Apart” is a love story between two cystic fibrosis patients. Its title refers to the distance those patients are told to stay away from each other to avoid potentially deadly infections.

Jacksonville patients with cystic fibrosis are eager to see the film on the big screen, but also concerned so many of them could be in close proximity to each other.

Before getting an emergency transplant during his senior year of college, Curtis Higgons was at 30- to 50 percent lung function. He remembers waking up at Mayo Clinic following the unplanned surgery.

“I almost knew right away that I had gotten new lungs because I had never taken a breath like that before,” he said.

Now nearly 27, Higgons said he’s healthier than ever. He was born with the genetic, incurable disease cystic fibrosis, which makes breathing and eating difficult.

“When I was born in ’92, they told my parents life expectancy was only 8 years old,” he said.

See Curtis Higgons' transplant story in this video he produced:

He’s looking forward to seeing his experience reflected on the silver screen on Saturday — he calls “Five Feet Apart” the first major movie about cystic fibrosis. But he wants to make sure he doesn’t pass his bacteria to any CF patients in the theatre.

Echoing suggestions he saw in a CF community online, he urges patients to wear masks, bring hand sanitizer and wear something purple to ID themselves.

And he plans to go a step further: “I will be asking around, like, does somebody have CF around me, because I know I have the bacteria, and I know some people that have CF don’t.”

The movie “Five Feet Apart” is playing in at least 10 theaters across the First Coast.

Contact Jessica Palombo at 904-358-6315, or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP