My thoughts: The Fault in Our Stars Book

okaygraphicinsta

 

It’s been a few weeks and I’m happy to say that I have finished reading and processing the book The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) by John Green. I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be reading and reviewing the book from a cancer patients perspective. Check out my apprehensions and assumptions before reading the novel here.

Taking the time to read my aforementioned post, you would know that I was especially nervous to begin reading the book. Taking the few extra moments to read the acknowledgement pages was greatly comforting, thanks to the author’s note, which reiterated that the story was a work of fiction to all readers. Feeling empowered by this notice, as if John Green was on my side, I began the first chapter. It took me a few days to finish the book, and for someone who has all the time in the world, that’s kind of a lot. I wouldn’t call it a page turner and I personally I found the story line to be too predictable. But hey, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to see that cancer, and people living with cancer are represented properly to a population largely made up of people with little knowledge of the disease.

Upon completion of the novel I can say that overall I was pleasantly surprised by the portrayal of a life lived with cancer. Not medically, as John Green gracefully discredits the scientific accuracy in the final pages of acknowledgements, but mentally and emotionally. I believe that cancer, for the patient, is a mental battle, more than it is physical. That is where we all overlap in some way. So that is what I was focusing on as I read this novel, looking for any way to overlap with Hazel, the narrator and main character.  It wasn’t hard, like I expected it to be. I even found myself highlighting different excerpts and thinking things like, “that’s exactly how it feels.” Even some of the sarcastic terms used like, “cancer perks” and “cancer side effects,” remind me of similar sayings used in my own day-to-day. I am happy to say that my assumptions about TFIOS, the book, were wrong. Cancer life was not misrepresented to millions of superfans all around the world. Way to go John Green!

Now, some people have spoken to me about the novel and how it “romanticizes” cancer. Well, it does. I personally don’t fault the book for that. It wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t a love story. And as a person who has suffered through cancer and lives with obvious differences (like Hazel’s oxygen) I would like to think that someday I can meet someone who has had similar experiences to me and can understand why I walk with a limp, or a cane, or crutches and love me anyway. They won’t think it’s creepy how often I think about death or how I’ll probably have fake hips by age 22 or that I know what it’s like to want to die. Because they will have experienced it too. But those are my own problems.

Overall, as a cancer patient looking to see that the story was an accurate representation of the struggle, I’d say that it was. In terms of reading for pleasure, I was not particularly enamored by the romantic love story between two suffering teenagers.

Gonna see the movie this week and I’ll put up a post of my thoughts on that soon!

xoxo Kathy

I Am Not A Hypocrite! (TFIOS Pre-Review)

Phew! I am beat. My counts are pretty high right now so my doctors have been increasing my chemo doses the last few weeks and I’m really starting to feel it. Either that or I’m feeling tired because I haven’t been able to exercise because of my hip issues/surgery incision. Fortunately, I got my MRI today and will hopefully know tomorrow what the deal is with the bum hip! Praying that it will not effect my running. I’m also feeling a little weird because I’m hoping my counts have dropped enough that they will lower my chemo again. Who wants their counts to be low? Just me.. okay. bye.

So I’ve decided to start reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene. In case you haven’t heard, seems like a fictional novel about a cancer patient/teen romance type deal. I’ve been skeptical about reading it because I know that it’s about a cancer patient. I don’t really know anything else about it except that it is being made into a movie. Both of these things make me feel a little bit uncomfortable about it. I first heard about the book while I was deep in chemo and knew that I didn’t want to read it then. I was too emotionally fragile to read about anyone else’s cancer, especially if it was fictional, while I was dealing with the real thing.

The truth of it is that nothing you see on television or hear from other people is going to define your experience with cancer. It is absolutely unique in every aspect for each and every person effected. That’s the truth, and that’s what matters. With that said, it’s hard to keep that in mind when you’re actually going through it. I was constantly comparing myself to other people who had cancer. This person lived, this person died, this person was horribly nauseous, this person had a horrible reaction to that chemo, blah blah blah. Eventually, I would remind myself that these people are not me, they don’t have my cancer, they don’t have my markers, they don’t have my doctors, they don’t have the same body, they are different. We all are. That said, they only way I was really able to solve that problem for myself (during chemo) was to avoid at all costs any stories of other people with cancer. Thus ruling out reading/watching/participating in TFIOS.

When I found out that they were making a movie about it, I became even more suspicious. As most people who have experienced cancer/chemo/radiation know, Hollywood loves to dramatize the experience. That’s great for Hollywood, but not great for people who get diagnosed with cancer and know nothing but what they see on TV, which seems miserable and awful  (i.e. me). Literally, the first thing my nurses said to me at the hospital when I was expressing my concerns was that I should throw anything I’ve seen on TV out the window. This worries me. I cannot support anything that will get so much publicity and touch so many people if it is a misrepresentation. There are already so many misconceptions about cancer/chemo, the world doesn’t need anymore false information. I don’t want anyone else to be as unprepared as I was for a cancer diagnosis.

With all of that said, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and both of those reasons for not reading the book are flawed. First of all, I can’t literally judge a book by its cover. I honestly don’t know anything about the story. All of what I just said is complete speculation on my part and I’m not down for that. Also, I just argued that everyone’s cancer experience is different, therefore, who am I to judge whether or not the characters/plot of this book are accurate or not? How will I ever know if John Green is dealing out “misinterpretations of cancer” if I don’t read the book? Therefore, I must read the book. At least then I will know the truth of it, either way.

Please comment if you’d like to share your perspective, but don’t spoil anything!

Stay tuned for my new review after I read The Fault In Our Stars! Hopefully will have it done by the time I get back from Ireland.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo Kathy

What 2013 Gave Me

I never would have described myself as a glass-half-full sort of person before this year. Not because I was a negative, glass-half-empty sort of person before but because I have never experienced something so unique or scary or enlightening or profound as I have in 2013. Something happened to me that I had no control over at all. There was nothing I could do to stop it or change it. The only thing I could choose was how I was going to live with it. And LIVE WITH IT is EXACTLY what I did. I crashed head-on into a lemon tree this year, but I’ve figured out how to make some damn good lemonade.

Here is my 2013, the bad, the good and the really, really, really good.

  • I got a tattoo on my leg.

IMG_1299

 

  • I graduated from FIDM, and made some really bad ass shit.

IMG_1576

IMG_1122IMG_1446

  • I went to Disneyland with my sisters.
  • IMG_1955I got diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and had to move back to Washington.

IMG_2102IMG_2231IMG_2126IMG_2221

  • I fell madly in love.

IMG_3577IMG_3363IMG_3485IMG_3259IMG_3339IMG_3173

  • I rocked a bald head.

IMG_2516

  • I got a new car.

IMG_2865

  • I experienced what it’s like to be trapped in your own body and have no control over your movements and actions or the ability to speak or function normally and had this tube shoved down my nose via leukoencephalopathy, fuck you very much methotrexate.

IMG_2936

  • I redecorated my bedroom and got a badass TV.

IMG_3364IMG_2727IMG_2728

  • I spoke at two cancer benefit events

IMG_2794

  • I bonded with my family

IMG_2530

  • I went to some dark places. (but I only threw up once)

IMG_3179IMG_2836 I turned 21IMG_36291544333_10201859397141280_805774888_n

  • I missed my best friends.

IMG_3025IMG_2707

  • I went to my first Seahawks game, sat in the Red Zone at met Russell Wilson!

IMG_3667IMG_3276

  • And I gained a new sense of community. I experienced the kindness and compassion of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. I learned more than I ever could have expected.

Getting cancer is horrible, but getting through it is amazing. I don’t know if other people can see it the way that I do, but in the end, I gained so much more than I lost this year, and a lot of it wouldn’t have happened without Leukemia. Life happens, whether you want it to or not and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, and enjoy what you can with the people you love. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, supported me, prayed for me, thought of me, donated blood, donated money, done anything for me or my family or cancer research. I may not have responded at times, but I have appreciated everything that has been done for me so greatly and I hope that everyone who has tried to support me knows that.

2013, I’m not sad to see you go, but you were good to me. Overall, you were good to me.

xoxo,

Kathy