I am currently working on character building in preparation for my first movie screenplay. One of my characters is a 15-17 year old girl with a terminal disease. Here are some requirements for the condition:

  1. It can't be cancer, but it can progress to cancer (like VHL)
  2. It will have had to be present in her body for at least ten years, even if it was asymptomatic
  3. She needs to be able to live at home. This may mean the parents caring for her or having nurses present every day.
  4. It will make her weak and her muscles atrophy. She may need a wheelchair at some point in the past and end up bedridden.
  5. She will die within the plot of the movie. So, whatever age she ends up being, the disease will have to progress to her being unable to walk and finally dying in her sleep at the same age.
  6. Similar to many terminal illnesses, this will have to take a large toll on her mental health.

Leave suggestions if you have any, thanks so much for the help!

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I thought that Stephen Hawking was a famous physicist. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ See the webcomic Sandra and Woo (by Novil and Powree) for the affliction that Larissa has. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 16:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "She needs to be able to live at home" - meaning she has to be homebound, or she does not require extended hospital stays, or she is not even homebound? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 16:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Okay: I found at least two more questions that are practically identical to this. So identical that I wonder if all three of you aren't actually the same person. If you're not the same person, please use the search function so you can find the doppelgangers that did. No 1; No 2 -1 for wasting our time. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 19:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Amelia: stop writing the story in comments! Your question has been closed. Fix it or move on! We're really not here to provide you material for your story's plot. Please check out the tour, the help center and learn what Worldbuilding is all about before asking questions! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 0:13

1 Answer 1


Cogenital Muscular Dystrophy + Heart Defect

If your main character was male, you could have used Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, however, as that disease is sex-linked, it cannot occur in females. That said, it's still possible, albeit much rarer, for someone to contract cogenital muscular dystrophy. CMD is when muscle stop developing from the very early stages of development - usually around 1-2 years old, possibly younger; and it caused by a variety of factors, mostly believed to be genetic in nature. As a result of CMD, the patient's muscles do not develop properly and thus requires 'aggressive support care' to ensure that certain key muscle functions (pulmonary, for instance) can still function as normal. Additionally, care is needed to ensure that the body is developed properly over the course of a young age, that is, during childhood development.

Generally, with proper care and treatment, someone with CMD, despite suffering from shorter life expectancy, can still survive to middle age - at the very least, late 20s. If, however, you decided that one congenital defect wasn't enough, you could add a second one to ensure that your protagonist would die - a congenital heart defect in addition to congenital muscular dystrophy. CHDs are usually fatal within the year, but it's possible for someone with a CHD to survive to their late teens, meaning that having CMD will fulfill most of your conditions and CHD will serve to meet the death clock requirement.

These aren't technically diseases, they are birth defects for the most part, but I believe this will suit your needs just fine. Also, this is just an overview, so if you choose to go with this option, I'd advise you to look into both these conditions in-depth on your own time.


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