Chronic diseases are becoming overly romanticized


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Who doesn’t love a great love story? Recently, the fiction genre has been filled with novels, movies and television shows, all with several things in common: two teenagers, a heartbreaking plot and unexpected love stemming right from the middle of it.

Lately, it seems as though things have taken a turn away from reality. These plots supposedly have disease suffering as one of their main conflicts, but there is not much suffering shown at all.

The novel, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, has risen to popularity this year. The plot consists of characters Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers with cancer who end up falling in love despite their health conditions. However, the novel and the newly released movie have been receiving criticism for not fully depicting the lives of real teenagers living with cancer.

The selling point of their love story is the fact that both are sick, yet the actual conditions themselves are barely touched upon. Throughout the novel, Augustus and Hazel are almost never described in instances of true pain and the hospital scenes are short and vague. Many fans of the book disagree with these critiques saying that Green is able to supply this reality to the readers.

But is the distracting love story distancing us from the aspect of pain? I think so. **SPOILER ALERT** Augustus has cancer spread through his entire body, but never complains of it.

I have seen people with cancer like that before. There is no way to hide that abundance of pain. Hazel has to carry around an oxygen tank and has severe lung problems, but still manages to walk the streets of Amsterdam without distress. The oxygen tank is treated like an accessory and is only there to qualify the story as one where someone is sick. Because they are in love, the audience is just supposed to go along with the fact that pain does not affect them like it should. Love is portrayed as some magical cure for pain, no matter how much pain someone should be experiencing.

“I think some parts of it are made to seem a bit more dramatic just for the purposes of making a really good novel,” junior Johanna Ananth said.

Recently, Fox released a new television drama series “Red Band Society.” The show narrates the life of a group of teenagers living in a hospital. The main characters include two cancer patients, a girl suffering from anorexia, a comatose boy and a boy with cystic fibrosis. Despite the serious health complications of each of these characters, they have freedom to do what they want in and out of the hospital. They take a surgeon’s car to go buy beer, steal medical marijuana and throw a party, all in the first episode.

“The show itself is entertaining and relatable. It’s also very unrealistic. The events that take place in the hospital wouldn’t happen in real life,” said junior Colin Page.

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