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Book Club: Rising Strong, Chapter 3

Rising Strong

After 2 weeks away, we’re back!

Welcome to the comments and discussion of Chapter 3: Owning Our Stories of the book, Rising Strong by Brené Brown!  Catch up on Chapter 1: The Physics of Vulnerability and Chapter 2: Civilization Stops at the Waterline.

Let’s get started!  Chapter 3!


This chapter was short and sweet.  So much to think about and ponder were packed into this tiny chapter.  My biggest take away was this quote, “What are the consequences of putting down the weapons and taking off the armor?”

Telling our stories, whether they be about cancer or not, takes a lot of vulnerability.  One must be willing to take off the armor, put down the weapons, and open up to someone else.  When we do this we open ourselves up to the opinions and points of view of someone else too…someone who may not have also gone through what you experienced.  We do this to pick ourselves back up again after a big event has knocked us to pieces.  Brené Brown says, “Integrating is the engine that moves us through the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution, and the goal of each of these processes is to make ourselves whole.”  Yes, yes, yes.

When I was in the process of leaving graduate school…well, that’s not really the truth of it.  When I was in the process of trying to stay in graduate school, is more like it, I wrote a letter to the head of my department advocating for myself and telling more of the extenuating circumstances that were threatening my time in graduate school in the first place.  My letter explained that my mother had died and that very soon after I was diagnosed with cancer.  The letter divulged that I was still, 2 years post cancer treatments, experiencing fatigue and chemo brain but that, while my progress was now slower than other students’, I could still do the research, get published, keep solid grades, find myself funding, and overall be a successful graduate student (I’d done all of those things post-cancer).  The letter was 1.5 pages long, and asked that I be allowed to continue in graduate school.  The letter argued that I be allowed to continue on a path I had been preparing for, for almost 8 years.  Before submitting the letter, I showed it to my thesis advisor, expecting him to be a good advocate for me as well.  I was wrong.  My advisor explained that the letter needed to be at most 500 words (about a page) because the department head was a busy man and that I should delete everything that explained how ‘incapable’ I currently was….soooo basically he told me to remove a lot of what was authentic and vulnerable about the letter.  I don’t believe I’ve told that story publically before.

It took me years to reclaim my story and to know that the loss was theirs and not mine.  It took many loving people, both professionally and personally, telling me that I was still worthy, that I was still intelligent, before I truly began to reclaim myself and my story.  If you are reading this, know that your story is valid.  Your story is important.  And know, you are enough.

Thanks for joining us for our Chapter 3: Owning Our Stories of Rising Strong!  Join in next Monday for Chapter 4: The Reckoning and in the meantime, learn more about the book club commentators!

If you’re just joining us, here are some logistics:

We will talk about a chapter each Monday until the book is done.  Then, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  Join in, in the comments every week!  At the end, we’ll have a book club discussion via video chat!  Also, there will probably be spoilers.  Read along with us!

How are you enjoying our young adult cancer book club?