“You don't need to let asthma take control of your life”

Flora Barber won BBC Hereford and Worcester’s poetry competition with a poem about her asthma.

“I've taken preventative medication for my asthma every morning and night for nearly ten years now, and I don't let it stop me doing what I love, even if I'm not as good as my friends.

I sometimes have bad days, but there are plenty of good ones too, and if asthma has taught me anything it's that life is precious. We all rely on our lungs to keep us alive, yet so many people never even consider their importance.”

Understanding is key

“Even today I don't feel asthma is taken seriously, especially when most people think they know everything about the condition when in fact they've only heard of it in passing. I hope that my poem would give an insider's perspective of a serious attack, to really make the reader feel what it is like so that hopefully they can understand asthma a little better.

“My advice to others who are perhaps encountering asthma for the first time would be just to spend a few minutes looking through the Asthma UK website and learning some basic first aid, because if more people are educated about the disease then hopefully more lives can be saved.”

Flora Barber

Look after yourself

“If you listen to what your chest is telling you and keep up to date with your appointments then you don't need to let asthma take control of your life. Keeping a diary, incorporating your inhaler into the daily routine, making an action plan, talking to your GP about your treatment - these are all things that can help living with asthma just a little easier.”

Home

A cough, a wheeze, nothing more, just a normal day.
It’ll pass; fade in the absence of concentration.
It’s what they always say.
“Go out to play, you’ll be home soon.”
How many more steps can I bear?
I just want to sleep, find comfort and warmth
To feel safe, protected from the whirlwind outside.

I was drowning on air, screaming but not a whisper leaving my lips.
Can they not see me? Could they not hear me?
My chest is heaving, every breath choking;
Help please, help, I’m being crushed from inside.
My muscles seizing, trembling, heavy with no sensation.
I’m fighting, slipping away, each second a lifetime.
All those people staring, talking, pointing.
I just want to go home.

How did I end up here? All these cables and tubes,
Flashing lights in my eyes.
Why wouldn’t they just go away?
Let me go home, I’m crying, trying to say.
I just wanted to be left alone.
Their words, all this noise, like an orchestra in freefall.
I just wanted to go home.

The whole world fades away, I’m falling.
I don’t want this struggle, this pain.
Falling down, deeper,
Faster, trying, gasping.
Their confused calm, panicked patience,
These flashes of consciousness, the effect of suffocation.
I just wanted to be left alone.
Begging then to stop, let in the silent darkness.
I just wanted to go home.

The stars, like fireflies, they dance through the midnight.
Like a phoenix, igniting, flaming, burning brilliantly.
The ashes fade, crinkling, crisply crackling.
Fading, burning out, we’ll disappear on a gasp of air.
Tossed onto a wayward wind.
It’s pitch black and we’ll never see the sun again.
Our voices, just whispering echoes in the back of their minds.
All I wanted was just to go home.

- Flora Barber

Read our advice on managing your (or your child’s) asthma at school.