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Rebekah Bolser Headshot

The Fault in Our Stars and Me

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"That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." -- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I cried the first time I read these words. Actually, to be honest, I cry every time I read those words. I can never describe how much that quote means to me. I'm no stranger to pain. I don't think anyone is, really. Pain is a price we pay for being human, for feeling emotions of any kind. I read The Fault in Our Stars six times in the matter of a week. It was the most emotional week of my life and I spent it curled up with TFiOS and mixed berry applesauce.

At the beginning of my junior year, I was so excited to get back in the swing of things. I spent the first month settling into my schedule, joining clubs and preparing for homecoming. I loved every second of it.

I spent October at home, barely able to move. I would go a day or two feeling great and then I'd sick again. On the rare occasions that I was able to attempt school, I would come home early. At first my doctors passed me off as a kid searching for any excuse to stay home. That, I think, was what hurt most. Being seen as a joke. I cried over that more times than I can count. I've cried a lot these past months.

Time went on and I got worse. I finally found a doctor who believed me. I could never thank him enough. I was sent to specialist after specialist for test after test until, finally, they decided on the scariest of them all. A biopsy.

There are several reasons one gets a biopsy, but the one crossing everyone's mind made my blood run cold.


Even typing that word now sends a shiver down my spine. For the longest time, I made everyone around me refer to it as the "c word." My sister continuously made the reference to Voldemort and said that, by not saying that word, I was giving it power over me. But I didn't care.

It's actually funny the way fate works out. My sister made that reference so often that she decided to reread the series. We own all the books, yet, as luck would have it, she couldn't find the first book. We walked over to the library where she dragged me to the teen section in search of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Picking up The Fault in Our Stars was completely random. I was fresh out of books and needed something to do during my seemingly endless appointments.

The first time I read it, my heart broke. A friend of mine said it made her feel emotions she didn't know she had. That wasn't the case for me. John Green was able to outline every emotion I had felt since cancer became an option without ever meeting me. That meant more to me than any "I'm sorry" or "It'll be okay" I had gotten.

I understand where everyone was coming from. Sometimes the only thing you can say is "I'm sorry." I've never been one for pity parties, so I hid away, reading and rereading TFiOS.

Each and every time I read it, I got something new from it. Everyone around me treated me like I was glass, liable to break at any moment. And I might have, if I couldn't depend on Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. Every time a friend gave me an "encouragement," I would cry. Because I couldn't find anything encouraging about them. I couldn't sneeze without my mom worrying that something was wrong. All I wanted to do was scream all the time.

My depression -- a side effect of thinking I was dying -- was short-lived when the phone call came. My biopsy was clean and I did not have cancer. I cried. But this was different, this was pure happiness. There were still so many questions unanswered, but that didn't matter right the. Future tests would show a series of issues that will affect me for the rest of my life, but I'm learning to cope.

These pass months have changed my life, and I owe a big part of that to The Fault in Our Stars. There were so many lessons I learned from one book. I took a look around me and realized I didn't want my "close friends" showing up to my funeral to discuss my nonexistent love for basketball. Like I said before, pain is a price we pay for being human and, as John Green pointed out, we don't have the option of deciding how or when we get hurt. You do, however, get to decide who hurts you. His last words haunted me and I spent weeks deciding whether or not I like my choices. You know what, though?

I do.

So, thank you, Hazel Grace. Thank you, Augustus Waters. And thank you, John Green. I will never, ever forget the way The Fault in Our Stars changed my life. I am forever grateful.