Cancer and being an outsider

Hazel's diagnosis

Hazel, the main character from John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars, is diagnosed with cancer at the age of 13. She learns that she has stage IV incurable thyroid cancer with metastases in the lungs (Chapter 1, 44%). She undergoes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But the metastases come back. She was 14 years old when water started collecting in her lungs. Her doctor manages to pump some water out of her lungs so that the antibiotics can take effect. Then the fictional drug Phalanxifor is tested on her, and it works miraculously for Hazel. 

Nevertheless, because her lungs are severely compromised, she is constantly dependent on an oxygen tank and daily intake of the phalanxifor. She has now been living with minimal metastatic growth for 18 months, but is aware that the drug only gives her a little more time. In the novel, the first-person narrator provides an insight into what it is like to live with cancer or a cancer diagnosis, and how cancer illess can change the surroundings and the reactions of those around her. A few examples show how someone in Hazel’s position can feel like an outsider.

Hazel's loneliness

Hazel expresses at the beginning of the novel that the people around her will never again treat her impartially and normally. Whenever they meet her, they will always have in mind that she is terminally ill and treat her accordingly with care. As she describes her meeting with her friend Kaitlyn, she regrets that their conversations no longer feel natural. This resonates with a deep l...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in