About 3 months ago during one of many conversations on FB Colleen Hoover and Sarah Hansen both told me I HAD to read a book called The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I said sure, but then I read the synopsis and said no way!
Cancer is too raw for me. I lost someone very dear to me in December and have a friend who is fighting cancer as we speak. I just felt the subject matter in the books was something I couldn’t deal with at this time.
However, I received a lot of private messages from people telling me their stories and why they read it and how they found it inspiring. Two of those people were Melissa Brown and Sarah Hansen and their words and stories really resonated with me.
After a long discussion with Sarah she told me of her personal experience with cancer and said this book might actually be a good way to deal with my grief and also help me to help my friend Mairead with her struggle. I told Sarah I would read the book, however, I asked if she would also tell her story about what she was dealing with at the time and why this book means so much to her and she agreed.
Then it hit me. What was my problem? Hell, I only had to read a book and possibly cry my heart out for a few days, whereas my beautiful, courageous friend (and many like her) had to actually deal with the reality of living with cancer on a daily basis. I decided it was time (as Colleen would say) to man up and read it.
Where to start? John Green’s writing is nothing short of phenomenal. I am still reeling today from how amazingly talented this author is. This book was the most emotional, wonderful, heartbreaking, inspiring and beautifully sad books I’ve ever read. To say I connected with these characters is an understatement. I KNEW these characters. They became my friends and when they hurt, I hurt. Deep in my heart and my soul, oh boy, I hurt. I sobbed throughout the book, and at one point, through lack of breath thought I would be sick. That’s how much this book got to me. Yes, this book did rip out my heart, but I got so much out of it as well.
I’m not going to talk about the book as such because Gitte has already reviewed it for Totallybooked, but what I would like to do is tell you a bit about the woman behind the reason I finally succumbed to reading this story.
My friend Mairead is a rare gem in life. She is one of those beautiful souls that if you are lucky enough to cross paths with in your lifetime, you know you have been truly blessed.
I’ve known her for 3 years. Whenever I see her, which is regularly, she has always a smile on her face. No exception. When Mairead says “hello my lovely how are you today”. She isn’t asking you in a flippant way. She looks deep into your eyes and asks “how ARE YOU today”. She means it. She cares and she wants to know that everything is okay in your world even though everything is far from okay in hers.
Mairead was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in November 2011 at the young age of 31.. We both cried buckets when she told me the news, but this wonderful selfless woman actually comforted me at the time. She was more worried about ME and how I was going to handle this. She didn’t want to make me sad. That’s her all over.
She bravely fought through the most horrible, rigorous treatment, yet still that beautiful big smile of hers was there, in place, to make everyone’s day just that much brighter.
The only time I ever saw her really down was when she was losing her hair. That broke my heart because I could see it broke hers. As Mairead uses humour to deal with life’s struggles, I decided to do the same and said to her “ahhh cheer up, and just think of the money you’ll save on waxing” – we looked at each other and doubled over laughing. She felt better when she got her wig that she nicknamed “Matilda” or “Effing Matilda” as she becomes known in the heat of summer when she drives Mairead crazy LOL
In March 2012, Mairead had to have a double mastectomy. I went to see her in hospital hours after the operation and there she was, propped up in bed looking a million dollars with that trademark smile, sans Matilda, looking gorgeous! I asked her how she was feeling and she said “to be honest I’m feeling a little flat”. I started banging on about how she’ll feel better in a few days blah blah – she stopped me and said “I’m messing with you, you fecking eejit…I meant my boobs are gone and I’m feeling flat”. I slapped her and we had a good laugh. See! That’s Mairead in a nutshell.
When she received news that she was in remission we cried with happiness! It was brilliant – she was able to travel to Ireland to see her family and she was on top of the world. We all were.
Unfortunately, that happiness was short lived. On the 13th of this month Mairead had to come and break the most devastating news of all to me. Not only had the cancer returned but they also found it in her stomach and lungs. My heart broke and as much as I tried to stay strong for her I couldn’t manage it and broke down. Once again, this selfless, wonderful woman comforted me!
I will see her fight this insidious disease. On her bad days, I’ll remind her how wonderful and special she is to me and everyone around her and why we need her to stay strong and beat this! I will tell her constantly why I need her in my life because without her, the brightness would go out of my world.
This beautiful little pixie inspires me daily. She’s courageous, giving, warm, and humorous and possesses the purest soul of anyone you could ever meet. A world without this amazing woman would indeed be a sad place, so I know she will beat this! She HAS to beat this!
Mairead allowed me to hell her story because – as she says,…..”if my story helps one person, then I want it told”
So, there’s my reason for “manning up” and reading this book. I think you’ll agree, a pretty inspiring reason.
My final thoughts on FIOS: Did I love this book? Yes! Did this book devastate me? Yes. Did it inspire me? Absolutely! Would I recommend it? In a heartbeat.
Thank you for reading and please, at some point in your day, take a minute and say a prayer for my beautiful Mairead.
Please see link below for the Breast Cancer Foundation. Every cent to fund research for this disease.
John Green entered my life when I was probably at my lowest point.
The Fault in Our Stars was not the first book I read of his, it was Looking for Alaska. As I turned the final page, I knew without a doubt this man had changed my life.
Immediately, I looked for another novel by him. What I found was not just a book. It was a life altering event. The Fault in Our Stars is not something you read, it is something that you experience. I knew it would be sad. I knew I would cry. And I was okay with that.
My sister had recently received a stem cell transplant and was in remission from Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. A book about cancer was something that would hit far too close to home for me. Then I met Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. Oh, Augustus.
The fictional love of my life. It is with hesitation that I write this review, I’m not kidding. I don’t even know how to form thoughts about TFiOS. My chest feels heavy, I can’t breathe very well, and my eyes are glazing over with the tears I still cry daily for these characters. Nothing I could ever say will do this story justice, and I am scared to let it down. To disappoint Hazel and Gus.
To not choose words with enough caution to truly prove to you that this is quite possibly the greatest piece of literature of all time.
Augustus Waters and Hazel Lancaster have cancer. While they may both be in remission, the bottom line is that once you have cancer, you always have cancer. I know my morbid thoughts are selfish in nature, but really remission is just a game.
A game of hide and seek, waiting to see where it will show up next.
The moment Gus looks at Hazel, your heart will beat differently.
That will not change, throughout the book or for the rest of your life. I am not going to give any details of their story here.
I cannot describe the love between them, the life they experience together, however short it may be. I can say it is more of a life
and filled with more goodness and love than most peoples. Sometimes,
I swear I see Hazel strolling by, oxygen tank in tow.
Gus isn’t far behind, showing a slight limp. And they are always smiling, smiling because no matter what, they feel happiness.
Death doesn’t have to be a sad thing, as John has shown. Sure, you will find yourself sobbing to the point of no return.
If you are like me, it will start on page one. I am crying now, as I type this. “Pain demands to be felt.” It is your choice how you feel that pain. You can take it and wallow in it, or you can live from it. Augustus and Hazel live from it, always.
John has brought so much into my life, with his characters, with his vlogs, his entire existence. Most importantly for me, I think, is the friendships I have made because of this book. To my Hazel, I could not, even for a moment imagine my life without you in it anymore, to say you have become a best friend to me is putting it lightly. Okay?
I am going to say to all of you what I say to everyone about TFiOS.Just read it. I promise you will love it. I promise it will change you, for the better. Do not be scared, you need this book. It is something that is missing from your life, and you don’t even know it yet. Yes, it is $11. It will be the best $11 you have ever spent. Trust me.
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world….but you do have some say in who hurts you.” Choose Hazel and Augustus. It will hurt in the most important, painful, beautiful, gut wrenching way. And be so worth it.
So, earlier this summer as I stood before this man, the man that has changed my life, my existence, my soul; I could not form a coherent thought. A few incomprehendable words tumbled out, but as he signed my book, he looked up and made eye contact. And I responded in the only way I knew I could. With a slight nod of my head, I met his gaze and simply said, “okay.”