Round 4: Wild by Cheryl Strayed
August 28, 2014
he wrote “I looked south, to where I’d been, to the wild land that had schooled and scorched me, and considered my options. There was only one, I knew. There was always one. To keep walking.”
That was from the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cherly Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone to discover herself. A worthy journey but not for the faint of hearts.
It is a journey of redemption that she undertook on whim after her mother died of cancer. I am sure some of us have had fleeting urges to undertake a self-induced journey of rediscovery, like retreat, yoga or hiking. Maybe some don’t know where to begin. Cheryl’s road to rediscovery started in Mojave, California and ended up at the Bridge of the Gods, east of Portland, Oregon. It was more than a thousand mile hike alone in the wilderness.
As I read the book I could not help relate to it through my cancer journey. Much like Cheryl, my cancer journey has shaped me to what I am today. Whilst her journey has long finished, I am still on the trails of my redemption not knowing if, when, or where it will end. I too have looked backed; have been schooled, scorched, joyed, and learned many times over. Then there is the only option in front: to fight and survived.
There is only one difference between me and Cheryl, she chose to the PCT to discover herself while cancer chose me to make me see life, family, and relationships differently. I have long stopped asking why I was chosen, instead I just accepted my faith willingly. Thy will be done.
I still marvel at the people I meet along the way. Yesterday was chemo day, Round 4, and my nurse was Marissa instead of Sammy. She is from the Philippines and had worked with Edith, my other oncology nurse at Swedish Hospital. There is LindaJ, the nurse research coordinator, the crochet ladies at the waiting room, other cancer patients, and many many other people who have touched me during this journey. To write I acknowledgements to all would risk not naming all but I feel grateful and blessed. Besides, this post would not end.
So, my journey continues and I am glad you are with me. I am sure some are on a journey too or have had one e.g. divorce, sickness or just a redemption-seeking adventure. Whatever it is (or was), there comes a point when you stop to rest and think. You look back and you look ahead. Whether it is a pain-numbing 26.2 mile race or an unplanned-system-shocking event that paralyze you to stillness, just block it and take the only option: Move. Don’t give up. Have faith. Soon it will be your moment of self-discovery.
P.S. Over weekend, my wife and I completed a half-marathon in 2:57:23. Not a PR but it met our target goal considering I had chemo during the week. Next is to continue to slowly build the miles to 15, 18, 20, and maybe enter Chicago this October while on therapy.