Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Read our participants’ reactions and follow along with us each week as we read through the book! (Caution! Spoilers below!)
Week 5: Chapters 9-10, pages 136-174
By Anmol D.
The first time I read Wild I found Cheryl Strayed’s story empowering. At that time I read it with the mindset of a kid who hadn’t experienced much change in life and had the world as my oyster. Reading it seven years later, with the mindset of a cancer survivor, I connected with different parts, still feeling the empowerment of Strayed’s journey.
Her resolve to continue something with the thought it’s against what’s safe and reasonable, without a doubt, was a pivotal point for me. It was a good reminder to continue striving for the future I want and to start going towards it now that I’m in survivorship. To continue to travel and explore the world, which was halted by cancer and Covid, now in this “new normal” of mine, and to maintain my resolve even though I may have thoughts to quit.
Strayed recognizing that her “effort means something” in the uncertainty, struck a cord with me. In the last decade of life, I’ve been struck with countless uncertainties and knowing that I, someone quite averse to change, really tried and learned to adapt to the uncertainty life has brought me was quite reassuring. I thought this was an important note to have been made for anyone experiencing uncertainties but especially for those who have gone through a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and lived in these times of Covid. Connected with the idea that you have to continue living. “Nature doesn’t care”, just like cancer doesn’t care about what day it is, who you are, what you look like.
There were several different pieces I connected with in this chapter.
Reading about the extent of strangers’ kindness throughout her adventure was reassuring in a world where hate and cruelness has been dominating the news and discouraging faith in humanity. Though this was years ago it’s nice when you hear stories like these even in this day and age, with all the worries of kidnappings and murder.
As an avid reader, I loved that in a situation where she had to pack smart she was willing to take on the impractical weight of a real book. Sometimes you need something just for you. This is such an important point of self-care regardless of your health status.
“After days of constant vigilance” sometimes you get tried. This reminded me of the days when I first started treatment and I diligently wrote my chemo regimen, any side effects, my feelings, listed visitors, etc. in a color coded chemo planner. Eventually as the treatment slowly seeped into me, I got tired and had to take a break and started keeping track in my phone, which for a person who has has a real planner since middle school was hard to let go of that level of vigilance. Remaining vigilante can be hard, sometimes you want or need a break.
The way Strayed talks about the camaraderie she feels for Greg, a stranger that she “greets like an old friend” makes me think of the kinship that’s felt with meeting other AYA cancer patients and survivors. Even as strangers there’s that connection, that link, that makes it feel like they’re an old friend. I loved how poetic this was to read when reading this book for a book club for AYA cancer patients and survivors.
We’ll talk about a few chapters each week until the book is done. Join in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers, so read along with us!
Once we finish the book, we’ll have an online book club discussion on Zoom to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss on Monday, May 23rd.
Excited about the next book club? Have any suggestions for future reads? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!