Author: Alana Somerville
I am an elementary school teacher, a wife and mother of two children under five. We live in the countryside in southern Ontario, and have a very typical working family life scrambling between gymnastics, daycare, work and home, and somehow managing to produce healthful meals in between. On all fronts, my life leading up to August 21, 2010 was picture perfect.
I was 33 years old and on maternity leave with my youngest child when I found my lump. My perfect world crumbled under the weight of my diagnosis of stage two breast cancer. Particularly since I had no family history or even friends who'd gone through it.
Prior to starting treatment I went into research mode. But every book I found had been written by medical practitioners who explained what things “should” feel like, and what side effects “might” happen to me. None were written by people who'd felt and experienced cancer. To me, this was a noticeable void.
As my journey unfolded, I ended up documenting my ups and downs in a series of emails shared with family and friends. Between this and the dozens of survival tips I learned, I wanted to share my experience with as many people as possible to make theirs a little easier. That's how my book Holding on to Normal was born.
In the end I wrote the book for two groups of people. First, for others embarking on their own cancer journey. And second, for my children, so they will one day completely understand this battle I fought for them.
Today I'm cancer free, though on tenterhooks waiting to hear that my cancer has returned. Life, however, is back to what it was before: I'm a working mom of two. Only I'm a changed person. It sounds unbelievable, but if I had the choice of going back and not getting breast cancer, I wouldn't change a thing. Death has a way of putting life in perspective, and perspective is invaluable.