I read "The Fault in Our Stars," cover to cover, in 36 hours. When a friend gave me the book to read, she said, "It's about kids with cancer, so be prepared, but it's awesome." I have the biggest passion for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Children's Miracle Network, so I knew it'd tug at my heart. However, I didn't anticipate just how much I'd identify with the story.
I promise, this isn't going to be a dark and morbid post. Stick with me.
With both of my melanoma diagnoses, we found it early and got it all with a cut and stitches. Never did we ever discuss chemo or aggressive treatment plans. It wasn't necessary. I've always felt confident that the cancer would be localized and I'd go back to life as usual.
When I find a spot that looks a little funny, I get nervous. But with how often I go to the dermatologist, I never worry that anything might have spread beyond the cut & stitch plan. About a year ago, my doctor (who is responsible for 4 of my "as amazing as they can be" melanoma scars) warned me that I need to be conscious of headaches and their frequency, "because as you know, melanoma metastasizes to the brain." God love her, but that phrase will forever be burned in my brain.
As someone who suffers from headaches, whenever I have them more frequently than normal, I worry. I try to banish the worry, but sometimes I have a bit of a breakdown.
Hazel (the main character in TFIOS) had a very similar inner monologue about a brain tumor in the book. I couldn't help but giggle and get teary as I read it. Even though her cancer is incredibly aggressive, and she doesn't live anything that resembles a "normal" life, I connected to her in that moment.
I've talked about "the ugly cry" before - and once I got to page 103, I ugly cried a good handful of times through the remainder of the book. There were also moments where I felt my heart swell.
The book is labeled teen non-fiction, but the way these kids talk - definitely wise beyond their years - prompted me to type out a few of the lines in a note in my phone so I could remember them.
This is one of my favorite paragraphs from the book - because, well, I suppose I'm a hopeless romantic.
Two of the characters fall in love and the book chronicles their struggle to love each other, the best way they know how, for the short time they have together. Sometimes, I think it's so hard to put into words what it feels like to be in love and what it feels like to be in pain.
Here's another one of my favorite paragraphs - WARNING - it's a bit of a spoiler:
I really loved the way Hazel described falling in love with Gus, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once." She also said she was "drowning in a weirdly painful joy."
Lord, isn't that the truth. Love is the most painfully wonderful feeling. The book ends with my favorite quote of all - and it's in the movie trailer, so I don't feel like I'm ruining anything by sharing - "I love her. I am so lucky to love her. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices."
If I haven't totally scared you off from reading this book, I highly recommend it. I can't wait for the movie to come out in March. I'm definitely working on getting Momma out here for a visit and movie date!
Swimming in the beauty and the pain of this life we are so fortunate to live...