Canadian Lung Association Blog

Author Anne Raina receives the Heather Crowe Award from Canadian Lung Association

Anne Raina receives award

Anne Raina, author of Clara’s Rib, received the Heather Crowe Award, for her work in raising awareness of respiratory health. Anne (second from the right) received the award at a ceremony in Ottawa. From left to right: Richard Shuhany, past CLA board chair, Dean Karakasis, CLA board chair, Anne Raina, and Leigh Allard, president and CEO of the Alberta Lung Association.

The Canadian Lung Association is pleased to announce that Anne Raina, author of Clara’s Rib, is the 2014 recipient of the Heather Crowe Award. This award in given to honor an individual or group who given to an individual or group who is actively involved in the promotion of lung health and the prevention of lung disease. Anne received her award Saturday June 14th at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Since 2010, Anne has been faithfully promoting Clara’s Rib – the true story of Clara, Anne’s late sister and co-author of the book. Clara grew up in a TB Sanatorium in the 1940s and 50s, at a time before antibiotics. The “Rib” is one that was removed during thoracoplasty surgery done to collapse Clara’s lung.

Clara’s Rib is the story of overcoming family challenges with six of Clara’s siblings also admitted to “the San”, and the eventual loss of her father and two of her brothers to the ravages of TB. And it is the story of living with stigma – a stigma that still exists today. Clara’s Rib illustrates in a real and personal way the Canadian experience of TB.

Anne finished writing the book after Clara’s death, publishing it in 2010.  Since then, Anne has also given 77 talks about Clara’s story that have taken her across central and western Canada. She has an Atlantic tour scheduled for later in 2014. Clara’s story has also been highlighted in TV, radio and newspaper interviews. In these talks and interviews, Anne speaks about Clara’s story, she presents historical and current facts, she raises awareness about TB in Canada and she faithfully applauds The Lung Association and/or endorses our valuable work – she even inspires donations in Clara’s honour.

“Clara’s story continues to be relevant today as an inspiration to anyone struggling with a debilitating and potentially lethal chronic illness,” says Brian Graham, president and CEO of the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.

Below is an excerpt from Anne’s acceptance speech.

Although I never met Heather Crowe, we closely followed her story of courage and inspiration.  She was held in high regard by so many.  As mentioned to a few of you in a letter, receiving this award from the Lung Association holds special meaning for me and I see it as a tribute to my whole family.

When I was a little girl, my father and most of my brothers and sisters were in the San.  When the Christmas Seals arrived I always thought they were so beautiful and they affected me in a way I can hardly describe.  Firstly, I recognized the word tuberculosis on the envelope.  I knew that word.  I would repeatedly pick up the package of Seals and look at them.  Seeing the Cross of Lorraine and TB on them, somehow without anyone explaining it to me, always made me feel that the Lung Association must be somehow helping to look after my family.  I could not fully understand this, but something about those Christmas Seals always gave me a deep feeling of comfort. I always kept a few of them in a special place to take out and look at often during the year.

At five years of age, I could never have dreamed, of course, that some day I would be telling my family’s story and that I would be sharing, in my presentations, the importance of the Lung Association, past and present.  It was that long held sense of support that motivated me to drive directly from the printers to the office of the Lung Association so I could sign the first copy of Clara’s Rib to them, with deep gratitude, on behalf of my whole family.

Shortly before publication date I called your office in Ottawa and, to my good fortune, ended up speaking with Debbie Smith, whom I had never met.  I told her a little about the book and asked whether the Lung Association might be interested in the story.  Debbie’s interest and enthusiasm were overwhelming to me.  My initial contact with her confirmed how right were my feelings about the Lung Association that I held since I was a child.

My friendship with Debbie and meeting so many of you in the Lung Association has been such a gift.

Dr. Peter Jessamine, Anne Raina and Debbie Smith.

Dr. Peter Jessamine, Anne Raina and Debbie Smith.

You are all part of this incredibly enriching and humbling journey Clara’s Rib has led me on.  The people I have met, including many who were in the San with some of my family members, have touched my life deeply. Many people helped to set this journey in motion and remain so supportive and it’s wonderful to be sharing this evening with some of them.

This setting is particularly meaningful to me because this is where Grant and I became engaged 27 years ago.  We certainly couldn’t have known that one day he would become my chauffeur, tour manager, and schleper of Clara’s Rib.   Some men may wish their wives wouldn’t talk so much, but Grant would have me out talking every evening. His interest, enthusiasm and good humour never wane.

A few of those special people here who have played such an important role in the momentum of Clara’s Rib are my children, Kelly Anne and Mark McGahey, my special nephew, Clara’s son Bill Flannigan, my friends Betty Forth and Bernie O’Neill, and all my siblings and their families are represented by my brother Ralph and his wife Cathie.  Although Ralph was told when he was 21 never to expect to leave the San alive, he turned 89 this past March 24, World Tuberculosis day.

Dr. Peter Jessamine, thank you so much you for your keen interest, support and generosity of time in following the journey of Clara’s Rib from its onset.  I’m sorry that Dr. Bill Jeanes who has a long history with the Lung Association is unable to be here this evening because of health reasons.  He is so pleased about this award and would like to have been here with everyone.

My siblings and I were so blessed with the most incredibly wonderful parents. On behalf of Mom, Dad, John, Mary, Ralph, Clara, Louis, George, Nick, Jim, Billy and myself, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to the Lung Association, Alberta and NWT for putting forward my name and to the entire Canadian Lung Association for this award and for all you have done for my family and for all your invaluable work in helping others.  Thank you.

For more information on Clara’s Rib, visit www.anneraina.ca

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Posted in Lung Health, Stories, TB

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