The reason I chose this film is because I saw it a few days ago for the first time and it really caught my eye. To give a brief synopsis, Hazel Grace is a teenager with all sorts of cancer in her body. Her mother forced her to go to a support group where she met a guy named Augustus, who also has life threatening cancer as well. They soon start falling in love with each other and Augustus asked her to go to Amsterdam with him to meet her favorite author. When she meets her favorite author, she realizes he is a drunk and doesn’t even answer any of her questions. After exploring Amsterdam, Hazel and Augustus go back to their room and this is where Augustus had to tell her something serious. His cancer had returned and it was killing him. When Augustus dies, Hazel is shocked and filled with grief. He was the only person who understood her and what she was actually going through. At the end of the movie, Augustus wrote her a letter and said that there is hurt everywhere and that she needs to accept that and keep moving forward. This was a very sad but moving film and it definitely relates to the course content in many ways.
Last week we were able to see how culture can play such a big role on how the patient should be treated. Hazel’s treatment option was to go through chemotherapy and see if the doctors could get rid of her cancer. Many other cultures would not choose this route to get rid of the cancer and might even believe in something spiritual. This became very apparent after reading “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.” Many of the Hmong people were forced to relocate to the Untied States. They were very uncomfortable with the western biomedical practices. Hazel would be treated much differently compared to the Hmong’ because they have completely different cultures and the doctor needs to make sure their patient is comfortable.
During week 2, we discussed the importance of mental health. Just imagine someone as old as Hazel going through life threatening cancer. Her mental health should definitely be in question and something the doctors look at. The explanatory model is defined as notions that patients, family, and practitioners have about a specific illness episode (Gabriel 2015). It is important that the patient be aware of what the illness is, in this case cancer. The doctors effective judgment will help the patient in what they decide to use as treatment options. Hazel had to go through these processes in order to find the best way to treat her cancer.
When someone is diagnosed with a disease/illness the doctor’s main focus is about the disease itself and not about what the patients experience would be having this disease. Hazel’s parents kept forcing her to go through chemotherapy. She was in a lot of pain and the treatment sessions had a very small chance of getting rid of her cancer. Not only that, but Hazel was going through depression dude to the fact that she was going to die soon. Her parents thought that her going to a support group would actually help her become happier. Going to this support group just made her think about cancer and death without actually helping her. People need to be more focused on the persons experience through such an illness. The doctors should not have told her not to go to Amsterdam because they felt it was too risky with her poor health. What they failed to realize is that going to Amsterdam would have done more good because that was the only thing that could possibly make her happier. They knew she was going to die soon and still urged her not to go. These are just some examples of what I learned in lecture.
Overall, I believe that this film could definitely be used as a part of this class. There are many key points about doctor-patient interactions that I would have completely missed if I didn’t take this class. It has many connections to The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures” as well. Most importantly, the film showed how Americans believe that biomedicine is the only way to cure someone. We look to kill the illness first, but at times fail to understand the pain and torture that some of the patients undergo. The film was presented very well and I believe that it would help the class relate to what happens when people are diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Hopefully we can all learn something about the strength that Hazel had and use that moving forward.
Gabriel, Cynthia. “‘Explanatory Models’ and Interpretive Theory: Learning about Health through Ethnography.” Online lecture, ANP 370 at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, August 17, 2015.
Gabriel, Cynthia. “‘Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine” Online lecture, ANP 370 at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, August 17, 2015.
Gabriel, Cynthia. “‘The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” Online lecture, ANP 370 at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, August 17, 2015.