Holding on to Normal

How I Survived Cancer and Made It to the Other Side, Happier, Healthier and Stronger
 

By Alana Somerville 
Published by Simon & Shuster

At the age of 33, I was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer. I looked at all the sick people around me and wondered, "Was I going to be like them? Was that already me? Did I suddenly have a time stamp on my life? Would I make it out of this alive?" It was then that I because determined to be my biggest advocate.

I'm a wife, teacher
and mother of two small children. The diagnosis changed my world and the relationships I had with everyone around me. Suddenly I was faced with endless medical appointments, multiple surgeries and procedures, the challenges of chemotherapy, and all the decisions involved in my treatment. I also had to deal with the trauma of realizing that my support network—sometimes even my closest friends—could struggle with how to help or even how to react.

My story is not unique.

 

This is a story that will resonate with anyone who has suffered illness and found themselves navigating a whole new world upon diagnosis. This is an “everywoman’s” journey through the experience of cancer, tracing the emotional, physical and psychological steps that are common to all.

 

I hope this memoir will offer hope that one can live a healthy, fulfilling and happy life beyond diagnosis. I wrote it with one thing in mind: to help other breast cancer patients. It shows that humour and humanity can shine through in the darkest moments, and you can face cancer with a tenacity that will surprise even yourself and inspire your family and friends.

 

 

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Testimonials



"I read your book and I have to tell you how honest and incredibly well written it is. I cannot believe your strength and your ability to see the big picture when most would wallow. Thanks for sharing." 
 

 

"I cannot believe that you had the time to document your journey with such detail and honesty and humility. I started reading your book last night and just finished now. I couldn't put the book down." 
 

 

"I finished your book a few days ago ... I have promised myself that I will do breast self-exams WAY more regularly than I have been. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm one of those girls who'd rather not, just to avoid what I may find ... I've already passed along your book to my neighbour, who lost her 39-year-old son to cancer and who is a breast cancer survivor herself. Next, it will go to one of my closest friends, who had a double mastectomy one year ago and is considering reconstruction." 
 

 

"I have been reading your book and it is tough to get through. I keep thinking about what I could have done for my mom throughout high school so that I could have been there for her more. It was tough seeing her go through the stages that she did as a 15-year-old to the age of 19, but not quite imagining the fears she had as a single mother, with 3 kids. My mom was a strong but generous lady. I've seen her selflessness to others a million times in the short time I got to spend with her. She raised 3 kids, ran a logging company at the same time as working "pro bono" for a law firm. As you can imagine the truckers and business were not one meant for a timid woman. Your book thus far has helped me gain some insight as to what to do if this disease strikes my family again. I appreciate the thoughts and feelings you are going through ... I'm glad that you have changed my mindset ... thank you for your story, our time, and the experiences that we have shared and will continue to share." 
 

"I read your book and I have to tell you how honest and incredibly well written it is. I cannot believe your strength and your ability to see the big picture when most would wallow (including myself). I really enjoyed reading it. I cried and laughed about your Rudy stories. It was interesting that I knew a lot of the events from an outsiders perspective of what was going on and to then know your side gave me a complete picture. Great book!"

 

"Your book thus far has helped me gain some insight as to what to do if this disease strikes my family. You are an inspiration to your family. Your children will always view you as invincible...."

 

"Congratulations! Your book is absolutely amazing, incredible and WONDERFUL!! I cannot believe that you had the time to document your journey with such detail and honesty and humility. I started reading your book last night and just finished now. I couldn't put the book down."

 


"I'm on chapter two. I was reading in the car during my daughter's music lesson and it made me teary-eyed I almost didn't stop reading in time to go in and get her. Your book is so good!"

 

 

"I just finished chapter 17. Wow, it brought up a lot of feelings. My best friend just went through this same thing. It sounds like you both had similar experiences. She would always describe how she felt and I wondered how on earth she was coping. I think I understand a little better now. She did the genetic testing too, and she was positive. At first, she decided not to remove her breasts, but since she was told the genetic results and the percentage of reoccurrence if she keeps her breasts, she has decided to have them removed. I'm going to lend her the book when I'm done."