Monstro is far from a normal Zombie novel; in fact, in the beginning I would have been more likely to place it in the Cancer unit – for this sounds like a rather grotesque version of melanoma rather than it sounding like a traditional discussion about zombies.

Traditionally, Zombie novels, movies, or shows have a few things in common – something that Monstro is missing. First, the zombie epidemic is almost always a virus type that spreads, well, like an epidemic – in Monstro, they made it a point to specifically say it did not spread as such. Second, Zombies traditionally have little to no speaking ability once infected – here, it takes them months to lose their ability to communicate effectively. Third, Zombies are generally falling apart, or losing limbs – not growing excess masses or growing into each other; that is something unique unto Monstro itself. In these aspects, Monstro differs from traditional zombie novels/films/tv shows so much, it is hard to view it as a Zombie novel.

However, from Pokornowski’s point of view (the one which I misunderstood last week,) Monstro is similar to a traditional zombie novel – as it portrays them as the “darkness,” (or, as Dr. Rippy pointed out, something that is traditionally in Africa – is that not where this entire novel is base?) quiet literally – as it says the disease actually makes them darker. It’s quite humorous, really, when you think of the play on words here.

That is the only point in which Pokornowski’s point of view can be taken purely at face value. The other point that was made in that particular viewpoint, was that the healthy, or the living, were portrayed as white normativity. This is true to a point here – despite the fact that the entire novel is set in Africa – the “rich,” are portrayed as the spoiled upperclass teenagers of America are portrayed – spoiled, partying, with an unlimited supply of things that they shouldn’t have – drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc.

Still, despite the fact that Pokornowski can be said to support the fact that Monstro is a traditional Zombie novel I must continue to argue against this. Monstro simply does not come off as though they are speaking about zombies – not in any true traditional sense at all – if one must delve into the hidden metaphors at play and the adjectives that are used, then one is truly digging much to hard to portray something as “normal.”

Monstro simply is not a traditional Zombie novel. It is interesting – vulgar in both word choice and images depicted, but interesting nonetheless; to try to make it normal would take away some of that. Monstro is a unique novel in and of itself, and I would rather it be classified as a new type of novel or subject than to try and classify it and limit it to something it is not.

Monstro, as I said earlier, truthfully would’ve worked very well in the Cancer unit. It speaks of being judged or marginalized, stigmas behind illness, as well as that visceral reaction we get from reading about such illnesses and the symptoms inherit with it. It is a good novel – completely different than what I was expecting when reading for the Zombie unit.


Mental Illness Unit

Graphic novels are a perfect medium to discuss mental illness. Marbles, by Ellen Forney is the best example of this for this unit, simply because it is more approachable, and better at describing the situation at hand; bipolar 1 disorder.

For this portion of  the paper, lets assume that I am a lay-person without any medical or psychological background, and look at Marbles through my (pretend,) eyes. Take, for example, pages 31 and 32 where Ellen discusses her shower scene with the girls from her swimming group. It is particular vulgar – not so much from the text, but from the co-existing graphics that go with it. As a lay person, I would not understand the scene on page 18, “…excessive involvement in pleasurable activities… this usually refers to…unprotected sex…” (Marbles, Forney, 18) to the extent it is truly meant, as a non-lay-person would understand; however, with Forney’s graphic scene on the afore mentioned pages 31-32, there is no doubt as to the rather extreme extent this particular symptom actually affects Forney. This is not something that could be shown as easily in a purely text based novel.

Forney does this several times throughout Marbles – she takes the text based information, and further explains it in a, pun non-intended, graphic manner that reaches across and grabs the readers attention and truly describes the situation at hand. For this particular reason, I believe that graphic novels are the best text based format to describe mental illness; and that is the reason that Forney, and many other graphic-novelist have taken this media form.

This can be related to American Sniper. If a lay-person were to read this novel (in this circumstance, a lay-person is someone who is not related to someone in the military, in the military themselves, or affiliated to the military in some format,) then it would not reach the reader nearly as deep as it would those who automatically feel that connection. However, one would have to have a heart of stone when watching the film if one did not react to the many heart-wrenching scenes – in particular, the closing credits which show actual footage from Chris Kyle’s funeral precession. American Sniper is, in essence, a movie about PTSD, and the effects it has on our veterans – whether we realize it or not. To many, this film is about war – what it’s really like out there, or maybe even how it effects the spouses and families of our soldiers – but that is not the real point. Chris Kyle was a real soldier, who really did have PTSD, who really was killed by another soldier (I would say brother-at-arms, but does he deserve that title anymore?) who was also suffering from PTSD. This is not something that can be scene in the regular novel, at least not by the lay-men; and isn’t the purpose of any novel to be able to be understood by any who read it, no matter their background?

That is why graphic novels are so amazing – despite the fact it’s pen to paper, they still get their point across with as much oopmh and emotion as a movie. This is why graphic novels are the best format within which to talk about hard topics – specifically mental illness. This is why Forney’s “Marbles,” was so captivating and intriguing from the start – because you couldn’t help but be pulled in, sucked into her whirlwind of depression and mania.

I recently found out I had an Aunt with Bipolar 1 disorder. This was, of course, horrifying; after all bipolar disorder has an incredibly strong genetic component, and your chances of being diagnosed increase significantly if another family member has it – as Forney so kindly told us. (Thanks Forney, you induced a minor panic attack in me when my dad told me about said Aunt,) and my knowledge about bipolar disorder comes mainly from this novel. Again, terrifying. I read through the novel again after hearing this from my dad, and immediately started self-diagnosing (total opposite of Forney, I might add, so hopefully this is a positive sign,) and it STILL draws you in with a second read. Despite the fact that I started re-reading the novel purely searching for the scientific basis behind her novel, despite the fact that I tried incredibly hard to view this clinically and to keep myself emotionally distant, I found that it was impossible. Somehow, by writing this as a graphic novel, Forney made it impossible for me to maintain a distance from her despite it being my second read, and despite my best efforts otherwise.

For that, Forney, I applaud you.

Marbles is an exceptional graphic novel – one which has the perfect mixture of text and graphics, it is written in a manner that is not overwhelming or too childish, the perfect mixture of artistry and textbook sentence structures, logical fallacies, and complex adjectives; and yet, Forney still manages to draw you in and enrapture as though it is Dr. Suess’s “Green Eggs and Ham,” somehow, I believe it would only take Forney two pages to convince “Sam,” that her novel was worth reading.

Final Proposal

For my final project, I would like to continue along my line of interest – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I believe this ties into both the mental illness chapter, as well as into Harper in Angels (her miscarriage, delusions/hallucinations  are a rather large part of this disorder, a side I did not explore when we first read and then watched Angels). As for the mental illness chapter, despite the fact that we did not directly touch onto PTSD, it is a mental illness, and therefore classified under this category, so I thought this topic would be allowed. I want to use American Sniper, and Lone Survivor both the movie versions, and the books to support my thesis.

Warm Bodies

Steven Pokornowski, the author of “Insecure Lives: Zombies, Global Health, and the Totalitarianism of Generalization,” is quite clear in his belief that authors of Zombie Novels write in the belief that they are showing that we must annihilate all that do not conform to the norm defined by “western, white, male ideology.”  However, I don’t believe his thesis is supported by “Warm Bodies,” entirely.

First and foremost, let’s discuss the topic at hand here – zombies, or the living dead. In and of itself, this topic deviates from social norm’s. There is a certain taboo to discussing things pertaining to death, pain, disease, anything that is controversial or requires debate when discussing the base subject matter. Despite the current fascination with this subject, and the numerous shows, movies, and books popping up pertaining to this subject, it is still not considered completely normal or acceptable to discuss these manners in a light or public manner. This could be debated, as many are obsessed with “The Walking Dead,” right now, and it has gained a huge fan base – but I would argue the obsession is with the living, and the fan base would be just as high if the survivors were fighting others who have some sort of fully understood and tangible communicable disease such as TB, rather than being zombies. It is normal to have a fascination with survivors, is this not the point behind Kristeva’s “abject,” theory? As such, I would begin my argument by saying that writing about zombies cannot be purely about “western, white, male ideology,” no matter how it is argued.

At the end of Chapter 1, there is a “marriage,” scene. While this might be normal in some novels, it’s rather strange in this context. Within a perhaps 10 minute period, this girl becomes “R’s,” girlfriend, within an hour his wife, within 12 hours, they have children. It is a strange scene. It does, however, support Pokornowski’s main thesis, about wanting to prevent deviation from societal norm. This is a normal love story; at least as pertained by status quo – dating, marriage, babies – and yet in context it deviates from the norm. As such, it is truly hard to say, at this point, whether “Warm Bodies,” will support or negate Pokornowski’s main thesis.

At the end of Chapter 2, there is a scene which could support Pokornowski’s thesis – where “R,” saves Julie. This is a typical scene that would be portrayed in a typical love story, as allowed and dictated by a “western, white, male ideology,” boy saves girl. Of course, this is the age old scene that makes girls sigh, boys groan, and teachers laugh as their students play into the roles allotted them by society. As such, it certainly does support Pokornowski’s thesis, despite its context.

My last example, I will take from Chapter 3 – the gruesome school scene, where they were teaching the “children,” to kill. There is nothing that can be said about this scene to link it to a safe, viable, normal scene in a status quo “western, white, ideology,” world. Nothing. It is a gruesome, awful, disgusting, visceral scene that does not fit into status quo at all. Unless you twist it into some twisted version of survival of the fittest – and even that is a stretch in the most exaggerated form of the word. This is not a normal scene, it is quite possibly one of the most deviant scenes that this novel has to offer – though there are many from beginning to end!

At the beginning, I thought I might be persuaded to see Pokornowski’s side – after all he was rather adamant about it throughout his essay. I have not been. Warm Bodies is a deviant novel, and perhaps it was written to purposely go against Pokornowski’s thesis – or at least to go against status quo.

Warm Bodies is a good novel, and it does have a few scenes that could pertain to Pokornowski’s thesis – but over all, it negates it. This novel is part twisted love story, part deviance in action, however Marion could think of.

Works Cited:

Marion, Isaac. Warm Bodies: A Novel. New York: Atria, 2011. Print.

Pokornowski, Steven. “Insecure Lives: Zombies, Global Health, and the Totalitarianism of Generalization.” ProQuest. N.p., 11 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.



American Splendor

“Marbles,” by Ellen Forney was an impeccable graphic novel, and despite the fact that we watched American Splendor, rather than reading the comic book series – I believe his work must have been impeccable as well – the movie translated well, and was realistic, as Forney’s work was.

The two authors were also artist’s, and displayed their work in this medium because it is more connectable, more personable. Illness is not something that is easy to write,  or talk about. By using the graphic medium, rather than the traditional writing form (novels,) both authors were able to describe their illness and give us the ability to connect – something which cannot be done as easily in a purely written format. I dislike El Rafaie’s article, for I disagree with his psychological interpretation behind these author’s choices in using graphics as their form of expression.

Rafaie talks about psychology, and the technicalities of writing – such as distinguishing the difference between “author, narrator, and protagonists of the story,” (Picturing Embodies Selves, Rafaie, 53). This may be true for other graphic novelists – such as the “Fun Home,” he discusses; but I don’t believe this is so for Marbles, or American Splendor.

Take into account the subject of these two graphic novels – depression, and Bipolar 1 disorder. In both cases, I strongly believe the authors focus is on discussing their pain and their illness, trying to get their reader to see the truth behind their words rather than seeing it as overplayed or over-exaggerated – they are simply trying to tell their story; they are not focused on the technicalities of their writing.  These are tough subjects to open up about – many people suffering from these disorders will not even go to therapy to talk about their thoughts or feelings, to receive medication, to get help for these disorders – this is something which is incredibly hard to talk about. By using the graphic novel forum, rather than the traditional purely written form, it is easier for these authors to open up about their disorders and get their point across – I do not believe their is any intense thought or psychology behind this. In both cases, I believe both authors were doing what they could to simply get through their depression, (and in Forney’s case, also her manic periods,) and writing / drawing these graphic novels was the only way in which they could find that release.

Fortunately for the reader, this forum of writing is incredibly easy to connect to the author. In both cases, the view-point of the author, who I suppose is also the narrator, is very easy to see and connect with. The traditional writing form does not allow this connection. Take, Harry Potter, for example: Harry has a lot going against him, he’s destined to die, and J.K Rowling wants us to sympathize with Harry, be confused over Snape, and hate He Who Must Not Be Named; and while she accomplishes all of that – there is still a small distance between the reader and all characters, despite our outpouring love and obsession with Harry Potter and all the characters therein, that is not an option with graphic novels, especially with Marbles and American Splendor.

Forney’s novel took Bipolar 1 disorder from words within the DSM IV, and side effect symptoms off of a prescription bottle and turned it into an experience for the readers; Marbles allowed us to truly experience her mania and depression with her, as well as the side effects that that medicine gave her. Forney allowed us to see her as a person truly suffering from a disorder, rather than someone who is over-exaggerating and trying to get pity from her audience. The pictures that she drew are what allowed this intimate connection, as it allowed us a glimpse into her mind, rather than flat words on a page that could be construed however we may wish.

American Splendor, despite being viewed on a screen rather than reading his comic strips, achieved the same purpose when describing depression. How can one not feel sympathy for this character, not experience his overwhelming sorrow and pain, when it is portrayed right before your eyes? At this point it is not, as stated before, simply words on a page – it is a real portrayal of someones overall loss of will to live. One can get on facebook, twitter, instagram, or pick up any book on depression and read the words “overwhelming sadness,” or “loss of will to live,” or “lack of will to eat,” or “inability to get out of bed, for it takes too much energy,” but words are such a common part of our lives – and they mean nearly nothing these days. By using the graphic forum – be it a movie, or graphic novel, these barriers can be overcome; I believe that is why both Forney and Pekar are drawn to this medium.


Marbles, by Ellen Forney was an impeccable novel that shed light on depression, mania, and Bipolar disorder; this was done in a manner that could easily be understood by a layman (someone who is not a part of the medical or psychology field, or currently studying in these fields,) without making the experience seem light or less difficult then it actually is. I truly liked the graphic novel, because Forney managed to get her point across (even the graphic, sexual ones,) without dimming or over-exaggerating the experience. During her interview with Amy Gall, the notion that the graphic novel was much more adept at reaching the readers than a normal novel came up – this is something I thought about often throughout my reading, and truly agree with. I believe that if this had been written as a traditional novel I would not have had as much interest, or been able to read the novel through in one hour sitting as I did, I would have become disinterested or overcome with the amount of information that is within the text.

Within Marbles, there is a 4 page section that truly caught my interest; on pages 181-184 Forney discussed her different medications and how they had affected her. I was surprised, despite how well she had cataloged and explained her experience in the pages before, how well she could describe the affects the different medications had had on her – especially because she wrote this memoir AFTER she had found her balance, and the worst of the medicine portion of the disorder was experienced. I stared at this portion of the novel for a long while, trying to place myself in her shoes – after all she had made it pretty easy with all the detail she had given, still I could not imagine going through all this and still being able to see humor in the situation and write this novel. She managed to do this without dramatizing the situation – at least I believe so. Her descriptions of depression are almost a textbook definition, with just enough personal detail in both words an image to convey the sense of how it effected her individually; the same can be said about her description of maina/hypomania, (though Forney was definitely experiencing manic episodes, not hypomanic).

The sexual content of the novel did surprise me – but what most surprised me was her understanding of how her disorder affected her sexuality. Despite the fact that this is indeed mentioned in the criteria for bipolar disorder in the DSM V, (risky behavior,) I have never truly thought of how it would effect a patient outside of unprotected sex and the risk for STD’s and STI’s. However, Forney made it clear throughout the novel with her mention of several random tryst, and her overt sexuality with any and everything, including a wall, that this does have a huge impact on a person. Her honesty and frankness throughout the novel shocked me, and continued to draw me in despite the fact that I did not want to feel fascination with her – I felt that was cruel, wrong, but the manner in which she wrote Marbles causes one to feel that fascination, no manner your want to stay disengaged and distant from her situation.

Ellen Forney’s ability to engage her reader throughout Marble’s is something rare, and not seen often with books or even movies about mental disorders. One is not fascinated with John Nash, in “A Beautiful Mind,” one might feel pity, sympathy, disgust – but one is not fascinated with him. As a nursing student I was truly shocked by how her descriptions pulled me in – I did not think anything could shock me or grab my attention after abnormal psychology last semester, but Forney did, and for that I commend her.

Forney conveyed her situation in a way that did not illicit pity as mental disorders generally do, but sympathy, fascination, and a want to understand her side of the disorder and help her. As such, I can now say that Bipolar disorder fascinates me. I have never done my research papers on this particular disorder, I have always focused on PTSD in post-combat veterans, but Forney wrote her novel in such a way that I almost wish to change my particularly speciality; I sympathize with her in a great manner, and wish there was something I could do so that nobody has to go through this sort of torture as she did, the medicine changes, the uncontrollable ups and downs, the pain of feeling alone.

Facilitation Response

As I read “Angels in America,” for last weeks class, I found myself surprised by the dramatization of both Harper, and people’s distaste with homosexuals; however after reading the articles for last class and this class, and with class discussion, I have learned that this distaste was not dramatized as much as I thought – and I find that even more shocking. After reading the article that Maggie and I picked for our facilitation, I found that I had more understanding of the portrayed distaste with homosexuals – an understanding I did not have before, as I viewed it with the mindset of one who was raised that “all love is love, no matter the form.” I was shocked that this did not come up in class discussion either this week, or last; I rather expected that someone else would feel that same shock as me, and find it hard to put themselves in the 80’s mindset as I had.

Harpers addiction and the dramatization of her hallucinations also surprised, and angered me. As a nursing student, one of the few things I am proud of at this point in my nursing education is my understanding of pain medicine – mostly through personal experience (medicines I have taken, internships, discussions with doctors,) and something about Harper’s addiction simply did not sit right with me. Though the play described these hallucinations well, the movie made it something I could view – and therefore something that confused and angered me even more. As such, as per usual for me, I went and discussed this with my mother, who was as shocked as I was that her valium addiction was portrayed as such – with hallucinations at that! While I understand the need for Harpers addiction to something (and this I only grasped after our class discussion,) Valium was not the correct drug of choice. Despite having an in-depth discussion about Valium with my mom, I did some of my own research to back up her knowledge. Valium is a muscle relaxer, and one of the MOST addictive medications that can be prescribed – and it is NOT used for anxiety/depression except for incredibly rare cases – Ativan and Xanax are the drugs of choice, with many lesser known medications prescribed before that. On top of that, hallucinations are a very rare and severe side effect of valium – if this side effect is experienced, the doctor would order the patient off of the medication, and transfer them to a new anti-depressant – something which never occurred with Harper.  A fact that also surprised me – if Harper had such severe fears of “men under the bed,” and “men with knives,” and such a severe addiction to Valium, why was she never portrayed in a scene with a psychologist or doctor?

The facilitation did not go as I expected. The topics Maggie and I picked were pretty open-ended, and well connected to both the play, movie, and the critical articles; I thought that the discussion would be easy and flow freely – after all there was so much to pick from and discuss. The magic realism (Harper’s hallucinations, Priors hallucination, the angels, the fountain,) was mostly an opinion based answer, as were the metaphors, stigmas, and thoughts about the fountain, and there were areas to pick from where you could truly see the dramatization of all these, something which could not truly be viewed as we read through the play.

However, towards the end, after the drug video, I was happy with how discussion flowed, as well as with the opinions I was able to hear from other  non-nursing majors about Harpers addiction, particularly because they differed so much from my own. In fact, I rather liked hearing others opinions, especially Morgans… her point that she is more likely to run into (and recognize,) a drug addict versus a schizophrenic, brought more reality into my thought process. She is correct. I did, however, find myself most agreeing with Kat – probably because she echoed my own thoughts and feelings so well. Despite the fact that I believe that dealing with and understanding the fact that a schizophrenic has hallucinations, rather than a valium addict still remains true – though, as stated, they were correct in making her a drug addict for the purpose of her hallucinations – simply the wrong drug. I truly wish we had had more time to discuss this in class, as I find it incredibly interesting, and a key part of Harper’s role throughout the play/movie. As discussion flowed, and my classmates opened up about their opinions, I genuinely found myself connecting with their opinions, and therefore with the characters more – something that really surprised me, as I felt that I couldn’t feel any more emotion towards Harper’s character then the intense anger I felt for the dramatization of her addiction.


Herek, G.m., and J.p. Capitanio. “AIDS Stigma and Sexual Prejudice.”American Behavioral Scientist 42.7 (1999): 1130-147. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.




As a nursing student, diseases of any kind are interesting to me, aids included. However, “STIGMA, HIV AND AIDS: AN EXPLORATION AND ELABORATION OF A STIGMA TRAJECTORY* ,” and “Contagion and the Necessary Accident,” bring to mind more the stigma that’s brought about by disease, rather than the disease itself.

“STIGMA, HIV AND AIDS: AN EXPLORATION AND ELABORATION OF A STIGMA TRAJECTORY* ,” goes rather in depth about the stigma associated with diseases such as AIDS – going so far at to give the literal definition of “stigma,”. In essence, the beginning of this article argues that the popularity of the discussion of the disease has not so much to do with the physical components of the disease/contagion, and more to do with peoples perception of the disease – “whether the ideal is for ‘correct’ sexual orientation or to be free of a disfiguring or fatal infectious disease,”.  Alonzo and Reynolds later go on to elaborate and say that a stigma doesn’t only give a definition to the disease beyond it’s medical impact, but that it also causes a separation between those afflicted with the disease in discussion, and those who do not have it – creating an “us,” vs “them,” type of thinking. After this, the two authors later discuss how AIDS and HIV have a more negative impact then other diseases. Despite the fact that they do not mention diseases, it is easy to see the difference between ones view of AIDS or HIV, rather than lupus, or ebola. Rather, when ebola was an epidemic last semester, it scared many people, and those suffering from it received pity, and aid from many countries and volunteers – though one could not really say the discussion of “us,” vs “them,” was at the forefront of this epidemic. Though ebola and HIV/AIDS both run rampant in Africa (though Ebola has died down some,) when looked upon closely, one can see the difference in society’s way of viewing the separate diseases.

“Contagion and the Necessary Accident,” focuses more so on society’s want to contain diseases, rather than the stigma behind them, and the role that the stigma of the disease, and the fear it creates plays in peoples want to contain said diseases. The “Necessary Accident,” portion of the title refers to researchers reasons behind the spread of disease – more so, where does the blame lie, essentially the researchers here believe that the disease (namely AIDS/HIV as these are STD’s,) is spread either through unprotected sex, placing the blame on society, or in a mutated virus/bacteria/pathogen that we have not created a vaccine for, and are therefore unprotected against.

As a Nursing student, one who’s interest lies in either PTSD and TBI’s in post-combat veterans, or in genetic research, I’ll admit that both articles contain worthy arguments.  “STIGMA, HIV AND AIDS: AN EXPLORATION AND ELABORATION OF A STIGMA TRAJECTORY* ,” is correct in many facets when it discusses the stigma that lies behind these diseases, and the impact that these stigmas have upon society, and those diagnosed with these diseases. However, despite the fact that the article only touches on HIV and AIDS, stigmas touch every disease that has ever become touched by social media – PTSD, Ebola, STD’s, Alcoholism, Cancer; and even illnesses that are NOT diseases: Autism, Down Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and many more diseases and illnesses are touched by stigma. The stigmas that are imposed do not only hurt those who are diagnosed, they hurt their families as well, and society too. Media portrayal of diseases and illnesses is what lies behind this “us” vs “them,” mentality when it comes to any sort of “deficiency,” it is the media who creates the stigmas – as a society, we allow them too because we fall for their portrayals rather than do our own research, or look for the person behind the diagnosis. “Contagion and the Necessary Accident,” is also correct in its argument that many focus more on the contagion of the disease rather than the disease itself. However, they should have noted the role that stigmas play in this need for contagion – due to the fear that all feel due to the medias portrayals of these diseases. Society, people in general, are scared of that which they do not understand. Most of the population are not doctors, researchers, nurses, or medical/nursing students – the disease is a concept which is not fully understand. In essence, to the general public, a disease is the outward symptoms that show within a patient – sores, bleeding, discoloration, great amounts of pain, throwing up, and eventually death. These symptoms, which the media portrays in as gruesome a manner as they can most times, is the reason behind the stigmas and the publics wish to contain the diseases. As I stated before, as humans, we fear which we do not understand. The media exploits this, and that is where stigmas come from – that is why we fear those with the disease and wish to contain it, rather than offer them help and attempt to understand their suffering – and neither article touched on this. In that, I believe they sorely failed, for this is a rather large part of “disease and discrimination,” whether they wish to acknowledge it or not.

Albertini, Bill. “Contagion and the Necessary Accident.” Discourse (2009): 443-67. Web.

Alonzo, Angelo A., and Nancy R. Reynolds. “STIGMA, HIV AND AIDS: AN EXPLORATION AND ELABORATION OF A STIGMA TRAJECTORY*.”Social Science Medicine 41.3 (1995): 303-15. Web.


Cancer 2

Last September, I had hip-surgery. My surgeon went in expecting to find a torn labrum, after all that’s what a multitude of MRI’s and CT scans had shown him, but that’s not what he found. Once he got into my hip, my doctor found a tumor hidden in my joint. He had to call two other specialist in there for second opinions, and they did confirm that it was a tumor. Of course, I was under anesthesia at the time, and had no way of knowing that my simple 2 hour surgery had turned into 6, or that my operating room doors had been revolving with specialist coming in  to talk to my Doctor, and going out to speak to my dad – who has no medical training, and therefore understood little of what they were saying. When I came back from surgery, my dad told me what little he did understand, essentially “tumor.” I was terrified, and my Doctor did not have time to come in and talk to me before I was discharged the next day. I did not see him again until my post-op 4 weeks later.

At my post-op my Doctor told me a little bit about my surgery, and about my tumor, and began to set out a plan for where we would go from here. I was in shock, and all I heard was “osteosarcoma,” and “we believe there could be more along your spine.” Despite my little bit of medical training, I did not comprehend much of what he was saying, I left and called my mom in tears. All I could think was “osteosarcoma? Doesn’t that have a high mortality rate? Tumors on my spine? I don’t want another surgery… I don’t want to die…” I was terrified. I did some research on osteosarcoma once I calmed down, and emailed my Doctor immediately, beyond terrified and begging him for clarification. He responded immediately, I had heard wrong, they thought I had osteochondroma, not osteosarcoma! Essentially the same thing – but I, Thank God, had the benign form as far as they could tell. I did, however, still have a possibility of tumors all along my spine, as well as elsewhere in my body, and they did have to keep an eye on my spine to see if my tumor would come back, at which point, a biopsy would be imperative.

I tell you this, so you understand why Khalid’s article hits a sore spot within me, and why I disagree with it so vehemently. Cancer IS a cellular error, it IS essentially your body fighting against itself, it DOES feel like you are at war with your own body. However, in no way does that “militarized,” way of thinking lead one to feel as if they are at war with those around them as well. That is a logical fallacy. Her entire argument, this article, is based off a logical fallacy. Khalid’s argument is based off a simple “slipperly slope,” argument all the way through – because this, then this, then this, then this. Not so. When one thinks in-depth about the situation that is being posed, namely: to be at war with ones self, is to be at war with all those around you; then one can clearly see the faulty logic that is being used here-in. It does not make sense to say that simply because someone is fighting a contagion within their own body, then they are against all those around them as well. Taken into less drastic terms, that as saying that when I have a cold and fight it with medicine, I also want to fight those around me. The premise does not support the conclusion at all – and therefore, her logic is skewed.

Fault In Our Stars, however, I found a good representation of cancer, especially for the age group which it portrays. Cancer is hard, it can lead to depression, it can lead to loss of body parts, and it can lead to death. However, throughout the movie one can see that despite their cancer Hazel and Gus still have hope. Despite the fact that they do see their cancer as a foreign substance, that they do fight  against the cancer throughout the movie, they do not show aggression to other characters (other than the book writer, but that was much deserved,). THIS is an accurate portrayal of the “militarization,” of the fight against cancer. Cancer is the enemy, and you fight it with all that you have, and everything that you can get from those around you. You do not fight those around you, as if they are the enemy as well.


The Cancer Journals, Tig Notaro, and “Influence of psychological coping on survival and recurrence in people with cancer: systematic review,” all discuss controversial topics that relate back to cancer.

Influence of psychological coping on survival and recurrence in people with cancer: systematic review,” written by Mark Petticrew, Ruth Bell, and Duncan Hunter, discussed a series of factors that may or may not be connected to longer survival post-cancer. For the purpose of my post, I will focus on the first factor: “fighting spirit,” which, unsurprisingly, was linked to longer survival. In terms of psychological coping, this can be linked easily to another medical or psychological term: psychosomatic, which simply means that the mind has an effect on the body. In this case, what is being referred to, is the patient’s use of their psyche, or mind, to effect their body. Essentially, studies support the idea that a patient having hope, and mentally fighting for their own survival, has a high chance of it actually impacting their survival post-cancer diagnosis.

The Cancer Journals, by Audre Lorder, brings about a series of controversial topics related back to cancer, similar to Tig Notaro’s comedy show, however Lorder relates her journals specifically to breast cancer. Similar to Notaro, Lorder discusses how cancer causes others to treat you differently – specifically referring to herself as an “outsider.” However, unlike Notaro, Lorder brings up a multitude of other issues that are co-morbid with breast cancer, such as the psychological pain that comes with the physical pain of the disease. Lorder goes in depth about how In fact, the psychological pain was sometimes worse than the physical pain – mostly, she felt this with the loss of hope. Lorder further discusses in ample detail how pain becomes a deep, integral part of your life from the moment of diagnosis and continuing on after the mastectomy, where Notaro did not. For the most part, where Notaro used comedy and the ensuing humor and laughter to bring hope into her experience and help her cope, it appears as though Lorder focused on mainly the negative aspects of her experience – the pain, the different ways people treated her, and the loss of her breast. As such, it is easy to see how Notaro’s use of comedy to reach out to her audience would garner sympathy and/or empathy (from fellow cancer patients/survivors,). However, Lorder was also able to reach the heart of her readers through the use of her journals, because unlike other forms of writing, journals come off as more personal, truthful, and therefore more approachable to readers. Both Lorder and Notaro’s forums have pro’s and con’s; however, I much preferred Notaro’s use of comedy, as it focused on the positive and the future, rather than the negative and the pain in the past, present, and future.

With the ideas contained within “Influence of psychological coping on survival and recurrence in people with cancer: systematic review,”  by Mark Petticrew, Ruth Bell, and Duncan Hunter, one could say that it would be easy to predict that Notaro would have a longer survival then Lorder, if one did not pay attention or read the Cancer Journals in depth. However, if read in depth, it is easy to see that despite her negativity Lorder had a great deal of “fighting spirit,” much more than Notaro did. Despite the fact that Notaro used humor, and a public forum to share her experience, if one listened carefully it was easy to hear the weariness in her voice – not a “fighting spirit.” In contrast, despite her mass amounts of negativity, and her focus on the pain, Lorder was pushing to move past the cancer and her masectomy, and more forward to a life that embraced the changes that cancer had caused within her. As such, I would actually predict that Lorder would have a higher rate of survival, and live longer post remission then Notaro.

Works Cited:

Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals. Argyle, NY: Spinsters, Ink, 1980. N. pag. Web.

Petticrew, M., Ruth Bell, and Duncan Hunter. “Influence of Psychological Coping on Survival and Recurrence in People with Cancer: Systematic Review.” Bmj 325.7372 (2002): 1066. Web.



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