Thursday, July 17, 2014

Their stars were not a fault to mine.

When you think about the most inspirational love stories, they are never the simple ones. Rather, they are often tragedies: the ones that make your heart feel heavy and your eyes shed too many tears. If you’re like me, when you see couples in public, you often wonder what their story is. I wonder about their hardships, their fondest memories, and their plans for the future. The hardest thing about writing your love story is not being able to read ahead. Weather the romantic tale lasts forever or for a moment, it is always beautiful. It can inspire you and enlighten your perspective. In my case, I found this in a novel.
YOU GUESS IT, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. From the moment the movie trailer was released, I could not rest. I watched the video, countless times, with tears streaming down my face. Needless to say, I am extremely attached to this book; I have a story behind it. As many of you already know, the book is about two, teenage cancer patients (Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters) that meet at a support group. Hazel is struggling with stage four, thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs while Augustus is an amputee, in remission, due to osteosarcoma. Along with them, Augustus’ good friend, Isaac, also attends the support group; he has cancer in his eye, from a young age, and eventually goes blind. Augustus and Hazel helplessly fall in love with the time that the stars have given them.

I trust that words, even made up, are capable of changing someone’s life, when they are precisely placed in a fashion that tells a remarkable story. It makes you feel like words know you better than yourself. I do believe that The Fault in Our Stars, not only changed my life, but helped me during the most difficult part. When I was diagnosed with my brain tumor, last May, it was the most devastating news I have ever received. I felt emotions, from pain, grief, and anger, to acceptance and gratification. I struggled with the simple fact that I will never be the same as I used to; my life is transformed. It was really hard to find others who would recognize how I felt, when I couldn’t even find myself. But, Hazel and Augustus, their stars were not a fault to mine.
Since I was very limited on my lifestyle, my days consisted of waking up at 7 am, watching the news with a cup of coffee and raisin bran, showering, putting on a cute outfit (even though I was going to the hospital, it made me happy), going to Children’s to receive radiation, and napping. So, since I couldn’t do much, it was the perfect time to read a book; you know it, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was as if this book entered my life when I needed it the most.
Reading this book made me feel like, for once in a long time, I belonged somewhere. I no longer felt like I fit in with the average, teenage demographic. I was so disgusted by the complaints of kids my age because they are so minuscule and selfish (Not all, but most). I was sick of hearing kids rant about their petty relationship issues, need for “more money”, and how they “can’t party this weekend”. I became so irate that others had the power to control what goes wrong with them, as they participate in unlawful activities; meanwhile, there are kids I’ve met who didn’t get a chance. No one could quite relate, but by reading this book, I was able to make parallels to my life and my emotions.
Hazel Grace, the narrator of the book, showed me that, although it can be hard living with this circumstance, you cannot live in the fear of making yourself a burden upon others. I watched my tracks everywhere I went, making sure they didn’t step on someone else’s feet by accident. I didn’t want to be “the girl with the brain tumor” who got sympathy and special treatment everywhere she went. It was hard to be in the spotlight for such a dark reason. I just wanted to be the normal me; I wasn’t and will never be. Hazel put barriers to those around her, but overcame them as she started to feel that she is not the only one who has these struggles. Like her, I started going more places, doing more things, despite the fact that I was the elephant in the room.
Augustus Waters showed me that true love will out stand even the most desperate of times. He expressed to Hazel that she is more than a diagnosis, a ticking time bomb, and a sympathy case; she is extraordinary, beautiful, and worthy of the life that she dreams of. This allowed me to relate with my boyfriend exactly. Most kids our age are frightened by this type of situation and don’t know how to handle it. Many people brought to my attention that he is just a young man with no commitment. He could have simply walked out at any moment, but he didn’t. He was at my doorstep almost every, single day when I was awfully sick. He took me to the emergency room, held my hair back (when I couldn’t keep anything down), held my arm when I walked (because I didn't have any balance), and drove me to a radiation treatment. He even prepared our own “prom” for my birthday since we missed it: a dress, incline ride, and dinner at a Mt. Washington restaurant. He was unbelievably strong for me and I will never be able to show him how thankful I am.  
Augustus’ best friend, Isaac, showed me that true friends are not blind to the reality and will not let support become too much to handle (even though he was blind). Isaac was there for Augustus and Hazel in the best and worst of measures. They knew there were times to just be quiet together, even though they knew what the other was thinking. They also knew when to talk about it: when to give advice, make them laugh, or even just ask them, “Are you okay?” Although it is difficult for people to find the things to say, sometimes being there and listening is efficient enough. Now I know, with loyalty and love, those who are meant to be in your life will always prevail.
One day, after radiation, I went up to 9C for the clinic visit with my oncologist. The waiting room was packed with children, mostly younger than me, that I felt extreme grief for. I placed myself at the small arts and crafts table with the kids and did a project with them. That was the highlight of my morning. Little did I know, something else was about to occur. When it was my turn go, I stopped in the kitchenette area a couple doors down from my oncologist’s room. They have drinks, snacks, etc; It’s Children’s, they really have everything. I normally don’t go in there, but for some reason the chocolate milk in the fridge was calling my name. Right after I closed the fridge, I saw something that struck my eye, and I dropped my chocolate milk! I called my parents to come see the flyer on the bulletin board because I couldn't believe it. The book, that I felt so connected with, was filming their movie in Pittsburgh and they were looking for teenagers with cancer-like experiences to be a part of the movie. It was like this one big sign that this book was made for me to read. Although I was too late on the offer, the fact itself that kids from my Children’s got the opportunity to do this, was incredible!

Their story showed me that, although my doctors did not know if I had cancer, they did not know if the treatment would work, they don’t know if it could grow back, they don’t know if I will ever be in tumor “remission”… I can appreciate my time that I have been given. Whether it is longer or shorter than expected, I have experienced, love and support that most people dream of having. Like Hazel says in the book, “But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.” 
So, now that the movie is released, so many TFIOS followers have become giddy over the glamorized, yet genuine story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. I can honestly say that the movie adaptation fulfilled every anticipation that I had for this masterpiece, written by the phenomenal John Green. I frequently found myself between distress in the form of mascara-melting tears and delight in the form of eye-squinting cheer.Nothing can truly prepare you for the experience that The Fault in Our Stars will present to you (especially if you have related experiences in your life). But, regardless of the impossible praise that this laudable book deserves, I shall do my finest to prepare you for it's heart wrenching yet warming excellence!
1. If you had not already read the book, do so now, or else you will be in oblivion to the treasures that the book entails.
2. You must bring tissues with you, possibly anywhere from one to ten boxes; just prepare yourself for a Niagara fall of tears.
3. In addition to tissues, be sure to bring with you a good that is comfortable with holding your hand or even wallowing and whimpering with you.
4. If you are one who prefers to wear makeup, either skip it, or bring remover wipes! This movie will make even "waterproof mascara" melt.
5. Face the fact that the sound of your own tears will overlap this masterpiece; you have no choice but the watch it, maybe two or twenty times more!