Tonight, I saw The Fault in Our Stars. I won't spoil anything for you, but it's about two kids with cancer. Anyway the girl, Hazel, has lung cancer. She carries around an oxygen tank, struggles to breathe, and can "talk medical" like nobody's business. Needless to say, watching the movie hit extremely close to home for me. Some of the scenes on the big screen brought back memories of health problems past as well as voiced some of my own concerns about living with a lung disease. For starters, Hazel has to use oxygen and wears a nasal cannula all day every day. I absolutely despise wearing that thing. I have a hard time looking people in the eyes when I'm wearing it, and honestly, I feel like a completely different person. It's hard to explain how it changes me, but you'll have to trust me that it does. Throughout the whole movie, I couldn't shake the smell of the oxygen or the feeling of the nasal cannula. There's also a scene in the movie where Hazel's lungs need to be drained of fluid. You see the drainage tube for half a second, but that quick glance took me immediately back to sophomore year in high school when I had to have a draining tube. I could feel the scars in my side from the tube start to ache at the sight of Hazel's tube. In addition, multiple times throughout the movie Hazel struggles walking up stairs, has to pause to catch her breath after laughing or talking, or just flat out can't breathe for one reason or another. Boy, do I know that feeling--I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to stop what I'm doing to catch my breath. I want so badly to be able to climb stairs and go on hikes and dance around without a care in the world, just like a person with fully functioning lungs--but I can't. I connected with Hazel instantly because she knows exactly how I feel. Not many people understand what it means for your lungs to be burning, to feel like the next breath is just out of reach. It wears you down and knocks you to the ground, quite literally at times. Hazel doesn't just understand my pain; she has experienced it.
I could go on and on about how this movie hit me in a nerve I'm all too familiar with, but I won't bore you with my bill of health! However, the one part of the movie that was the hardest for me to watch was when Hazel and Augustus start falling for each other. Hazel warns Augustus to stay away because "she's a grenade". She doesn't want to let anyone get close to her because she knows she could explode at any point, and she wants to minimize the casualties. I think that's the story of all people with a chronic disease. We realize that life is short. We get that our health could turn for the worst with little warning, and before anyone realizes what's going on, we could leave people in a trail of hurt and heartbrokenness. We love the people around us so much, and we desperately want to save them from the pain of our disease. But here's the part that got to me--Augustus doesn't care. He loves Hazel anyway and sees past her disease to the true person she is (granted, it helped that he has cancer himself). He calls her beautiful, even with the dang nasal cannula. He dares to get close to Hazel, despite her very fair warning about her future. He chooses to take a step into Hazel's world. I think people with all sorts of diseases will melt a little inside at that. You see, we're really good at putting up walls and seeing who dares to accept the challenge to start taking them down, brick by brick. Our walls are not easily torn down. We don't want others to get hurt by our disease, but we're also scared to death of someone using our sickness to hurt us. We're terrified that someone might start getting close, understand the reality of disease, and walk, no, sprint the other way. When Augustus doesn't give up on Hazel, even when she pushes him away, I think all the diseased people were sold on Sir Augustus Waters. Deep down, we all want someone to care enough to accept the challenge and start taking down the walls we've built.
Overall, the movie was good. It was much harder for me to watch on the big screen than to read the book. I guess something about watching the movie play out made it seem more real. From my analysis, there are three main differences between The Fault in Our Stars and my life:
1. I have cystic fibrosis; Hazel has cancer. I've had CF since birth; Hazel was diagnosed with cancer at thirteen. I can't meet other CF patients in person per CF guidelines; Hazel meets other kids with cancer through support group.
2. My life is reality; Hazel is a fictional character. You can't write the story of your life like you can a novel.
3. I believe with all my heart that God loves me deeply, that He is fully trustworthy even when everyone and everything else fails me, and that through the power of Christ's life, death, and resurrection, I will live for eternity in Heaven with my Lord. Therefore, I can have joy and peace no matter what happens to me on earth, and I have no reason to fear death. Praise the Lord for that!!