In The Fight of Gordon’s Life, it seems motor neurone disease finds itself facing an opponent unafraid to square up and tackle the condition with bravery, dignity and relentless zeal.
“I let the cameras in to some of the most personal and difficult parts of my life, because I want to make a difference,” says Gordon Aikman in what is a poignant but truly life-affirming half hour which charts his life with the disease over the course of a year.
What becomes increasingly clear is that the breathtaking speed at which his body is losing basic abilities is no match for the lightning pace at which he has raised a staggering and ever-spiralling amount to fund a cure for the condition, and shone a much-needed spotlight on its everyday impact.
It’s heartbreaking to see his progression from gymnast who competed for Scotland to being spoon-fed by a carer, where a seemingly innocuous task of trying to open the curtains turns into a physically and emotionally agonising five-hour nightmare.
The steady corrosion of his independence, and prospect of losing his voice, such a core part of his identity, seem particularly cruel.
But there are moments of true joy too, with a Stateside engagement and Aikman achieving his aim of walking down the aisle at his wedding. The event is attended by J.K. Rowling, who describes as “one of the bravest men I’ve ever met”.
In one of his characteristically eloquent and defiant messages on what can be learnt from his experience, he says dying “has taught me a lot about living”.
Be true to yourself, and “if you can, fight to make things that little bit better for those that follow”. Seldom have wiser words been delivered.
- You can find out more about Gordon’s Fightback and donate at gordonsfightback.com.