The difference between cancersploitation and art, according to a cancer survivor

From "The Fault in our Stars." Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and love.

Writing at TIME, my friend and fellow breast cancer survivor Lani Horn (aka Chemobabe) says whether we view cancer films like "The Fault in our Stars" as outsiders or insiders, the best movies in the genre provide catharsis.

"Art imitates life," she says, "it is not meant to be life itself."

The world looks different after you have spent time pinned to the mat by death. The gaps between reality and representation are no longer theoretical. They are contentious. Beautifully bald actors shorn to portray chemo patients betray reality with their thickly lashed eyes, much to the chagrin of those of us left lashless by the real medicine. Some of the most egregious side effects of treatment cannot be artfully depicted on film ­— mouthsores and constipation, anyone? — while vomiting, which has become more manageable thanks to newer side-effect medicines, continues its prominent role as a cancer-flick leitmotif.

You can read Lani's full essay here.

Don't miss her daughter Naomi's review of the same film, for Boing Boing. Naomi turned 14 this weekend.

Image: From the film adaptation of "The Fault in our Stars." Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and love.