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Book Club: Brave Enough, Chapters 27-32

hospital desk

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Brave Enough by Kati Gardner!   Catch up on Chapter 1, Chapters 2-5, Chapters 6-8, Chapters 9-11, Chapters 12-15, and Chapters 16-20, and Chapters 21-26.

Week 8: Chapters 27-32

Commentary by Rachel C.:

Each chapter is fairly brief and the story bounces back and forth between Cason’s struggle to accept her “new normal” (I hate that phrase with a passion!) after her amputation and Davis’ continuing struggle to stay sober.

Chapter 27 starts out with Cason working on her physical therapy. She struggles after her amputation to feel like a whole person, much less a dancer. In processing everything, she breaks up with Davis because she believes he needs someone who is whole. Davis often struggles with the desire to use and he struggles even more so after the breakup. He meets with Mr. Williams to talk about his struggle to stay sober. Mr. Williams gives Davis a ratty piece of paper which has David’s list of why he wants to stay sober. Cason becomes closer to Mari and other fellow cancer survivors in the hospital and they continue to try and convince her to go to cancer camp. Davis runs into Cason’s mom as she’s breaking down outside of the hospital. Cason’s mom thanks Davis for being a friend to Cason and asks if he has any other amputee friends he can introduce to Cason. Cason ends up hospitalized with an infection and it’s during that hospitalization that her mom finally accepts the invitation to go to a parent support group. Davis sits beside Cason’s bed while her mom goes to the support group and they begin to mend their friendship.

There’s so much of this story that I can relate to. I can’t imagine losing a limb like a leg or an arm to cancer because the physical parts of me that I lost to cancer were internal. But no matter what kind of cancer you’ve had, you’ve lost things. Cancer is a thief. It takes things from you. It can take body parts, your confidence, your trust, your security, your health, your peace,… It can take some relationships, friendships, your job, your financial stability…it can take your feelings of wholeness and worthiness. It can make you feel alone. But one of the biggest things I’ve learned since my diagnosis is that although you may feel alone, you are never alone. There are amazing resources for young adult cancer survivors and thrivers to stay connected and get support!

Commentary by Lisa C.:

I really connected with what Cason was experiencing in chapter 27 with the loss of something that defined her and was an incredibly important part of her life. I didn’t identify as a dancer but as a long-distance runner. It was a huge part of my identity, I spent so much time training, and a large circle of my friends was from the running community. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, running wasn’t really possible- or even enjoyable so I had to get creative. Cason’s anger is clearly masking the hurt and frustrating of her new reality and trying to redefine who she is aside from a dancer (in the traditional sense).

Cason clearly wasn’t thrilled about the idea of therapy. Going through everything that cancer entails, I’ve found many benefits of being connected with a counselor. Having someone neutral and removed from your immediate circle can be a place to release and explore without having to monitor or worry about the impact your words might have on those you love. You could feel the shift in Cason from when she first met her therapist to her beginning to open up. It’s definitely an intimidating first step to make and can feel overwhelming to add even more appointments into the mix.

In chapter 29, the author gave such a vivid glimpse into Davis’ brain and the consuming thoughts about his desire to use and find an escape. It really hit me when his mom explained to him that “It’s your disease I don’t trust”. You could instantly feel the shift for Davis when his mom separate Davis from the addiction. Mr. Williams is clearly an important fixture as Davis struggles with addiction and knows how to get through to Davis in a meaningful way. His wish/prayer list has obviously been looked at many times.

In chapter 30, you could feel the release that Cason got when she genuinely laughed with Mari. Laughter has been so helpful for me making it through everything cancer-related.

I’m sure we can all relate in some way to Cason’s experience of seeing her ballet shoes. Some things seem to hit hard and unexpectedly- reminders of who we were “before cancer” and dealing with our new reality.

Chapter 31 again gives a very in-depth look into Davis’s brain and he struggles with his addiction and to see himself as more than “just an addict.” His interaction with Natalie definitely shifted their relationship and you could tell that Davis felt that he was valued and more than his addiction. In the next chapter, Cason saw her mom and Davis walking together into the hospital and she can clearly see the shift as well. Chapter 32 gives us a taste of the unexpected hiccups that come along with having cancer and undergoing treatment and dealing with the side effects. It can feel like a setback. You can tell that both Cason and her mom have started to come to terms with the cancer diagnosis and all that entails. Natalie surprised Cason with her willingness to give the parent support group a try. This shows the impact that cancer has on our support system too and how important it is for caregivers to also be supported.

Join in next Monday for the comments and discussion on chapters 33-38!

We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done. If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday. Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss. We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end! Join in, in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!  Excited about the young adult cancer book club?  Have any suggestions for future reads?  Let us know!