Skip to main content

The Fault in Our Stars, Part 1

I saw the new teen romance movie The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend, and had some thoughts about it that I'd like to share over two blog posts. The first of these posts will feature musings on life and death that the film stirred within me, while the second post (which will appear later this week) will be a more direct view of the relationship in the movie. Hopefully, neither post will be too spoilery (in case you haven't seen the movie, or the read the book by John Green that it is adapted from).

The Fault in Our Stars deals primarily with the lives of its two leads, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus (Gus) Waters. Both have had cancer. Gus' is in remission, while Hazel's (Stage IV thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs) is in a sort of holding pattern. One day, at a support group meeting for teens who've dealt with cancer, Gus expresses an interest in Hazel (whom he affectionately refers to as "Hazel Grace"), and a nice romance blossoms.

While the support group consists of some of the best looking cancer patients I've ever seen (hint: the movie could have made them look a bit more realistic), the film ultimately doesn't flinch from sickness, or death. Hazel's battle with thyroid cancer hit close to home, as that is the type of cancer I had four years ago, although my situation was far less severe. Still, it resonated.

Last month, as I awaited results of some routine blood work and an ultrasound of the neck (to make sure there were no new growths after the thyroid cancer), I felt doom and gloom. What if the results came back... not good? It freaked me out, but then there was also a practical side of my mind that noted, 'We all have to die of something.' I've lived 38 years, in one of the best countries in the world, in pretty much middle-class standards most of that time, and there really isn't a reason to complain.

A teenager from the UK died this May after dealing with cancer. He was only 19, and had been sick since he was 15. No doubt he had moments of self-pity, but instead of letting it get him down, his sickness inspired him to help others. Stephen Sutton managed to raise $5.4 million for a teenage cancer charity. He had 19 years on this earth, only 15 of them good ones, and now he's gone. Meanwhile, I'm 38 and worried about some (possibly) bad test results?

There are kids dealing with cancer as I sit here typing these words. Strong, brave little ones, some of whom can barely remember what it's like not to be sick. Cancer strikes at all ages. In other parts of the world, people may endure hellacious lives, long or short, simply because of where they were born, or who controls their country, or who raises them. Life, truly, offers no guarantees.

The Fault in Our Stars, while leaving me a tearful mess at times, reminded me of the fragility of this existence, and how we have to appreciate and make the most of what we have now. Hazel and Gus may not have had the longest relationship in existence but, sometimes, quality trumps quantity. Indeed, we're alive a comparatively short amount of time and, for most of us, the impact we make before returning to oblivion is greatest felt by the people who matter most to us while we're alive.

And it doesn't matter whether our lives are six years, sixteen, or sixty years.

* the photo at the top of the post is of Stephen Sutton, the British teenager who passed away from cancer at age 19, May of 2014.


Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …