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What 'Life Sentence' Got Right About Being Sick

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Spoiler alert: I know a lot of “spoonies” have been anticipating the first episode of “Life Sentence,” the CW’s new show about a girl, Stella (played by Lucy Hale), who discovers her terminal illness has been cured and has to deal with life now that she’s no longer “dying,” hoping and praying they would portray it right!

So I thought I’d share my opinion of it!

First off… I love when a show’s protagonist is sick! Or when a show features a sick person in general. Even when the show has some “inaccuracies.” Because:

1. It’s a character I can actually relate to! Healthy people… I love you… I wish I was you. But sometimes it’s so hard to relate to “healthy people problems.” Being sick gives you a whole list of problems that healthy people wouldn’t fully understand because they haven’t experienced them.

2. Even if it’s just a small way, it gives the world a glimpse of what it’s like to live with illness. Some things may be super inaccurate. But some of the emotions and struggles the stories portrayed in my opinion are super accurate and incredibly relatable. And just having a piece of what it’s like to be sick helps it become a little more visible. Spreading a tinge of awareness is awesome and important!

So now that the beginning part of that rant is over, on to “Life Sentence.”

There were some definite medical inaccuracies (well, at least from my experience). The random “being cured” part I’m still trying to figure out. I’m not considered cured and I had an “easy cancer.” When it comes to my DFSP I’m “no evidence of cancer” and have to get follow-ups and scans for life. It’s always a sword that will be hanging over my head.

But this show did show three important things.

1. Illness affects the entire family.

It just doesn’t throw the sick person’s life completely out of whack (of course it affects the sick person the most). But it throws everyone’s life who decides to stay by your side out of whack(which I honestly think is part of the reason some people leave when you get sick). Illness is in the business of taking lives, and I think this show perfectly shows that it does it way more than just physically.

2. The thing that had me rolling with laughter while watching this was the difference between how she was treated while she was sick. and how quickly she was treated differently when she was cured.

People treat you different and pity you when your get sick.  It sucks. But it happens. How people treat her I like to call “The Porcelain Doll”: When people think you can’t handle any bad thing, bad news or physical exertion. And they basically, like a porcelain doll, just need to put you up on a high shelf so you don’t break.

And the way it shows the difference between how you’re treated when you’re sick vs. when you are healthy was so dang relatable.

3. Fear of the future: Stella had “accepted a certain death” and now has to face “uncertain life.” And I think fearing the future is something every sick (and non-sick) person can relate to.

Personally I’m terrified of the future, because with my health I have no idea what’s to come. I know aspects of my health decline yearly. But being primarily undiagnosed,
I don’t have anything resembling a “blueprint” of what to look out for, what to expect, or even what the right treatment is.

All I know right now is thanks to prednisone, I’m not currently dying. But I know that fact could change. My health is so unpredictable. I take life one day at time.
Because when I don’t, things implode.

I don’t even dare make commitments a week in advance because my health issues are so complex and unpredictable. My life, as much as I hate to admit it, revolves around my health.

So when Stella expresses that fear of the future, and in her case of having a future, I get it.

And I think most sick people (expecially those who have an illness that could/will kill them) will definitely get it.

Your life revolves around your health, and all the unknowns that come with being sick are terrifying. And not letting yourself want things you’re afraid you can’t have is so freaking relatable.

Being sick makes your life a giant question mark.

And I would be over-the-moon happy if the world’s biggest miracle happened and all my aches, pains, and life altering/threatening symptoms were gone and I was cured.
I would literally cry happy tears every morning I didn’t wake up in pain (which would be every morning! How cool would that be?!).

But all the sudden having a limitless future, when your life had been chock-full of limits would be… almost terrifying. Because you wouldn’t exactly know what to do with it.

Your illness taught you that life is a gift. And now that you have a “healthy full life” ahead of you, full of choices you never ever thought you would have, you would be terrified that you are going to waste it.

So in conclusion, so far I’m impressed with “Life Sentence.” In my opinion it’s not 100 percent accurate. But it’s quirky, it’s fun, and most importantly it’s relatable. And I’m excited to see what the show has coming next.

Originally published: March 8, 2018
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