An article about the TV series It’s a Sin prompted one comment to go viral as it remembered people who died anonymously, away from home.
The five-part drama series written by Russell T Davies was set in 1980’s London and told the story of the AIDS epidemic and how it impacted one specific group of friends. The show aired back in January to huge acclaim, with critics acknowledging that it was the first-of-its-kind in realistically depicting the crisis.
The article published yesterday, Wednesday, December 22, on the Guardian website revealed the Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin as its choice for the best TV show of 2021. Following its publication, it received over a hundred comments critiquing the show and debating its merits. One particularly emotional comment was later shared on Twitter and has since gone viral.
oh this made me emotional!!! im so proud of this show 💜 https://t.co/xxE1NELNTM
— olly alexander (@alexander_olly) December 22, 2021
The comment was left by a reader under the name Pukkaday. In it, they shared their experience of caring for people with Kaposi Sarcoma (KS), a rare form of cancer that specifically affected people with AIDS.
“It was a very difficult watch at times, especially if like me you treated patients with advanced AIDS in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. Before there was widespread and successful drug regimes. My first career I trained as a Therapeutic Radiographer and often patients would be given radiotherapy for the Kaposi sarcoma that would spring up all over their bodies.”
Pakkaday went on to describe the effects of KS, “The KS were often rather painful and could be disfiguring. I felt the worst was when patients would get it on their palate lips and gums. They could be very large and bleed. The ones on the gums often grew large like a pregnancy epulis and interfered with eating.”
— James (@DrJamesJBailey) December 22, 2021
They continued by sharing their memory of one particular patient, Brian from Ireland, and the devastating effect of his family’s rejection.
“Most patients were young in their 20’s and early 30’s and at the time the vast majority still died. I can remember a few so well even though it’s over 30 years ago. One in particular Brian he was from Ireland and his family had disowned him due to being Gay. He had advanced AIDS with lots of KS on all parts of his body. I treated him for around 6 months off and on… I got to know him fairly well he was a very softly spoken young man and although we never talked about the final outcome he knew he would be dead soon and the RT was just palliative treatment.”
The post goes on, “I was off on holiday during his final treatments before he died but he left me a letter. It was so sad he thanked me for my kindness and help. His family would not reconnect with him even though they knew he would die soon. So he had asked me and other friends to remember him on his birthday March 17th so that his life would not be forgotten as long as people who knew him still remembered. Even without his asking I wouldn’t have forgotten him or that time.
“Writing this I’m crying now. It was a difficult time but I also got to see such courage and fortitude from these young men whose lives were cut cruelly short and that I hold dear.”
Brian from Ireland. We're all reading your name and remembering you. You are son, brother, and citizen of this country regardless of what your family thought. Rest in power, boy. 🏳️🌈🤝🇮🇪 https://t.co/KHQJ1gCxsA
— Philly McMahon (@McMahonPhilly) December 22, 2021
Responding to Pukkaday’s viral comment, another reader, Kelly1, shared their devastating experience of attempting to contact another Irish patient’s family.
“I remember making phone calls to an Irish mother from a pay phone at Kings Cross station, begging for her to come over and say good bye….her shame and fear kept her away, her beautiful son, he didn’t die alone, he had his Chosen family not his birth family… it took me years to forgive myself I didn’t make her come over… I felt old but looking back I was a kid, not yet 21 years, so many beautiful people left the dance floor to soon….. I will remember Brian on 17 March next year; it’s St Patrick’s day ☘️ they say you die twice, 1st on the day you died and 2nd when your name is last called by someone who loved you…. By you sharing this heartfelt story…..Brian will be loved and remembered for a long time more…..”
I have no words for this only tears: Whenever you read stories of the AIDS crisis it never feels any less devastating and surreal. These men were failed by society and I hope these stories are never forgotten. https://t.co/maU02HuBTR
— 🦄 (@Allywander) December 23, 2021
While It’s a Sin played a huge part in remembering the AIDS crisis, Pukkaday and Kelly1’s comments remind us how many stories still remain untold and need to be shared.
If you would like to understand more about the effects of the AIDS epidemic in Ireland, check out ‘The Story of Ireland’s AIDS Quilts‘ on GCNtv.
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