Since being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), it has been interesting to observe how certain movie quotes seem to have much more meaning than they did prior to my diagnosis. I tend to watch movies these days seeking out characters who can relate to what it is like to live with a life-threatening illness.
These types of movies are not always helpful to watch, as they can be sad and further expose me to the realities of chronic illnesses. They also can be increasingly frustrating when a chronic illness is inaccurately reflected to a large audience, further exposing myths of living with a life-threatening disease. (But that is a column for another day.)
However, sometimes movies, both happy and sad, are what I need to release my pent-up frustration or tears. I find watching movies are helpful, cleansing, and often more relatable since my diagnosis.
The reason I chose to write a column about this is because I caught myself saying aloud a quote in the famous teen drama The Fault In Our Stars. For those of you who have seen the movie, I quoted the main character, Hazel Grace Lancaster during a particularly sad scene. It was when she is sitting outside in tears talking to her boyfriend on the phone, after just being told she could not go on a trip due to medical restrictions. When her boyfriend asks what is wrong, she blurts out “I don’t really want this particular life.”
Before my diagnosis, that line did not resonate with me at all. However, now that I am living with IPF, that line means so much more. It has stuck with me because I caught myself saying it aloud after a frustrating weekend with poor lung function. I also can directly relate to Hazel Grace not being able to take a trip in the movie due to her medical condition, as the same thing nearly happened to me. During a particularly low point for me this past weekend, I caught myself also referring to not wanting this particular life either … a life filled with hospitals, tests, pokes, doctors, nurses and not being able to breathe.
Another movie I have watched countless times over is the film version of a book by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult. The movie is called My Sister’s Keeper, and yes, it is another tear-jerker. This movie also has become a lot more relatable for me since being diagnosed, and sometimes you just need to watch sad movies. The scene I caught myself quoting by accident was when one of the main characters Kate (who has leukemia) was getting to know someone in the clinic bed beside her.
She was receiving chemotherapy, and another character in the scene asked what she does when she is not in the hospital, in an effort to get to know her outside of being a patient. Her response was “wait for something that makes me come back.” This is exactly how I have felt lately.
Again, this is not something I could have related to before my diagnosis, but I feel as if this would be the answer I would give if someone asked this question of me in an effort to get to know me. It would not have been my answer upon initially being diagnosed, but it feels like these days my lungs are acting up more than usual. I am having an awfully high number of emergency room visits, admissions or clinic appointments. Perhaps my answer also would not be as similar to Kate’s if I was having a better day emotionally, and I would proceed to share other things about me outside of being a patient — hobbies, skills, interests, etc.
These two movies are both sad and reveal in-depth pain and suffering. But they also show some of the beauty of living with a chronic illness. They are not movies that I watch on a regular basis, but these quotes both have come up in the last couple of days. As I speak the same words as the characters, I am reminded how movies can resonate. And, for some of them, their quotes and messages now seem to have so much more meaning for me than they did prior to my diagnosis.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.