Most people think having the same disease with someone is just to sympathize and share the pain suffered from one disease simply. However, people suffering from the same illness can understand each other in various ways. They may have different backgrounds, genders, and family trees, but they quickly develop a deep bond, share common hobbies, and sacrifice themselves willingly for each other. For people observing them, it all seems meaningless to love and show affection to one another since death is pending. Still, the two terminally ill persons can share love and friendship with disregard for their pending death. Let’s look at how this can happen.
The Fault in Our Stars (2012)
“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, and I hope she likes hers. Okay, Hazel Grace?”
- Augustus Waters
The Fault in Our Stars
The book presents the stories and lives of three friends who meet as they battle same cancer. Hazel Grace Lancaster has been fighting cancer since a very young age. She needs an oxygen tank by her side at all times. Augustus Waters, who has lost half of his one leg due to cancer, brings joy to the lives of Hazel and Isaac. Combining all their healthy body parts, the three of them could merge to create two complete bodies, with the added features of four eyes and two and a half lungs. They spend their days joyfully, even though they don’t know the day when life will end. Hazel and Gus, both book lovers, share books and become especially close through the book, An Imperial Affliction. Both Hazel and Gus long to meet the book’s author, Peter Van Houten. Using Wish of Genie, a wish service for young patients of cancer, the two are transported to Amsterdam to meet Mr. Van Houten. While in Amsterdam, they suffer greatly from the unexpected and physical pain of cancer, but the trip is nevertheless enjoyable and they express their love for each other. However, after returning from Amsterdam, they face the reality of cancer. Their bodies struggle to fight the disease, and their spirits struggle to fight the mental pain of cancer. Through the process, they fall victims to self-loathing but continue to battle by relying on the strength of each another. How will their lives change?
The book presents the reality faced by cancer patients, both brightly and darkly. Because of cancer, Hazel lives a repetitive tedious life. Gus becomes both her best friend and lover. They love, live energetically, and console each other during the harshest of times with cancer. Their lives make readers see the positives in their lives and realize how good their lives are. Furthermore, because the characters in the novel are young adults, they make readers ponder on the idea of death and whether others will remember them long after they have left the world. It also makes people think deeply about the idea of family and how families will cope without their loved one in their lives as well as the larger idea of “what is the purpose of life?” Hazel, Gus and Isaac are not typical young adults, but they still enjoy life. Reading this book, readers will go through various emotions from sadness to joy. However, after finishing the novel, they will contemplate the feeling of facing death and the meaning of life. This SMT reporter read this book quite some time ago, and reread it just now, but this reporter still hasn’t yet understood what all that life and death mean truly. Perhaps the most important thing is to understand that death is inevitable. Then, how will you choose to face it? Like Hazel? Gus? or Isaac?
Five Feet Apart (2019)
“If you're watching this and you're able, touch him, touch her. Life's too short to waste a second.”
- Stella Grant
Five Feet Apart
This movie shows the lives of three friends who have Cystic Fibrosis: Stella, Will, and Poe. To understand their lives, movie audiences need a basic understanding of the disease Cystic Fibrosis. Because the disease can spread through respiratory organs and saliva, patients must not get closer than six feet from each other. They must also not touch each other. Among three friends, Stella likes to share her life with others through YouTube and used to do appointed tasks according to her schedule because of obsession. Will, on the other hand, is giving up on life and does not have any hope for winning the battle against the disease. Poe is a childhood friend of Stella. The three characters eventually create an iron friendship as they struggle through their difficult situations. Over time Stella and Will realize their love for each other, but their nurse, Barb, works tirelessly to stop them from expressing their love for each other so that they may both live. The key is that they must stay 6 feet apart. They keep 5 feet apart, with the argument that their disease keeps stealing from them so they are stealing back a little something, 1 feet. Having to stay 5 feet apart, they date without holding hands or showing affection, but they are still able to console each other and talk deeply. Their love grows deeper daily, despite the harsh time. They help each other deal with the disease and gaze with love 5 feet apart. They also risk their health to love and keep friendship. Will it be possible for the two to keep their love 5 feet away?
This movie made this reporter reflect on many aspects of her life, especially how painful it would be if she could not touch or move close to her family or loved ones. Most people take these things for granted such as air, water, WiFi, and so on. The most important idea is human touch or physical contact. Most of us think nothing of talking to others or eating with others nearby. Moreover, kissing and hugging one’s partner requires human touch. However, what if you could not touch your partner? You will likely become depressed and blame themselves and disease constantly. The three characters in this movie sometimes go through these sentiments, but they work around it to create memories with their friends and receive treatment continually to avoid the worst situation, death. Even though the three characters cannot blow out candles on their birthday cakes and cannot share food, they can write letters and draw pictures that express their affection. They love, become friends, and console each other. This SMT reporter hopes that Sookmyungians take a day from their life to feel gratitude for the things they have after watching this movie.