Trashy Novels and Redeeming Fiction

Today was an epic three novel day! My favorite kind of summer day. Definitely feeling the fatigue from my last infusion, so I gave myself a rest day and made the most of my time with my Kindle! The first two novels weren’t noteworthy (romance trash I’ll delete and try to forget.) But today I decided to tackle “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. I’d been quite nervous to read this book considering I try my very best to steer clear of pediatric cancer stories whenever possible. I experience an abundance of pain and sad stories because of the cancer communities I participate in and although I do follow and actively support the parents of a few pediatric melanoma patients, I do avoid intentional exposure to those stories. My mama/cancer patient/selfish heart just can’t deal.

I am so glad I risked reading “The Fault in Our Stars.” Although it is about pediatric cancer patients, I found myself relating to them as patients much more than with my mom heart. So much of the worldview and frustrations expressed by the characters in this story resonated with me. From facing a terminal diagnosis turned to cautious optimism due to new drugs, impatience with cliches but understanding that others are doing their best to comfort. Identifing with the fraternity of patients, despite differences in outcomes and diagnosis. And especially fear of hurting loved ones due to the diagnosis hit home. Even the frustration with those who attempt to lead support groups but are maddening in their probing. The annoyance at the warrior mantra and “winning” a battle when while we would like to claim credit for victory, much of this journey is beyond a patient or doctor’s control. And especially the frustration of the seeming randomness and unfairness of the disease and success of treatments. All struck a deep place in my heart and mirrored some of my own internal dialogue.

I was also surprised that I made it though the book with most of my emotional detachment intact. I shed a few tears as I read but more for myself and fellow patients than the characters in the book. Am I becoming scarred to the pain of this disease? Perhaps, but more likely I am too intimate with stories of friends who have suffered to die and suffered to live facing similar circumstances to these characters. It was those friends’ stories along with my own which brought tears as they echoed in the book.

I would certainly recommend the read to anyone. You might need some tissues handy as the characters are lovable and it is a book focused on pediatric cancer!

Blame the chemo-brain for my not recognizing this earlier, but I realized when I finished the book, John Green is the face of one of my favorite vlogs. You should check out his Youtube Channel Vlogbrothers! Once this connection clicked I wasn’t surprised at all that I loved the book!

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