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Holding on to normal : how I survived cancer and made it to the other side, happier, healthier and stronger
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A compelling memoir about trying to live meaningfully with illness and triumph beyond it, by breast cancer survivor Alana Somerville, a teacher and mother of two young children.

I looked at all the sick people around me. 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?

Alana Somerville--wife, teacher and mother of two small children--was thirty-three years old when she was diagnosed with stage-two, triple-negative breast cancer. The diagnosis changed her world and the relationships she had with everyone around her. Suddenly she was faced with endless medical appointments, multiple surgeries and procedures, the challenges of chemotherapy, and all the decisions involved in her treatment. She also had to deal with the trauma of realizing that her support network--sometimes even her closest friends--could struggle with how to help or even how to react to her anymore.

Throughout the course of her illness, Alana learned to maneuver through the medical system, to advocate for herself, and to build a truly supportive network. She also discovered how to keep her positive spirit intact while undergoing a double mastectomy and ongoing treatment. She is now living cancer-free--a survivor and an advocate.

Alana's story is not unique. It's 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. In the end, this memoir will offer hope that one can live a healthy, fulfilling and happy life beyond diagnosis. Holding on to Normal is for anyone who is suffering--or knows someone who is suffering from--a setback in life, and who is looking for inspiration on how to navigate their own journey.
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Table of Contents
Foreword    Elizabeth Hurleyp. xi
Prologuep. 1
Part 1Shockp. 5
1Before and Afterp. 7
2Failing Apartp. 12
3Stupid Pink Everywherep. 18
4Diagnosisp. 22
5Positive Thoughts, Damn It!p. 26
6Squeaky Wheelp. 33
7Will I Wake Up Again?p. 38
8Missing Piecesp. 44
9Bad Newsp. 49
Part 2First Stepsp. 53
10Oncology Logicp. 55
11Welcome to Chemo!p. 60
12The Red Devilp. 65
13Do They Stay or Do They Go?p. 76
14It's Only Hair, Isn't It?p. 81
15It's My Party, and I'll Cry If I Want Top. 88
16Everything Is Crapp. 97
Part 3Lostp. 103
17Taking It All Offp. 105
18A Numbers Gamep. 112
19The Great Unknownp. 117
20Nestingp. 120
21Moving, Moving, Moving ... Onp. 127
22Grasping at Strawsp. 132
23What a Painp. 136
Part 4Will I Make It?p. 141
24Distractionp. 143
25Burn, Baby, Bum-or Notp. 147
26"Real" or Fake?p. 151
27Overreactionp. 157
28Planning Aheadp. 162
29Mission Accomplishedp. 165
Part 5Turning The Cornerp. 169
30The New, Boobless Mep. 171
31Signs of Emotionp. 182
32Abiding Scarsp. 189
33Who Me, a Survivor?p. 197
34On Trialp. 204
35Final Surgeryp. 213
36Finishing Touchesp. 223
37A Gift from the Heartp. 230
Epiloguep. 233
Acknowledgmentsp. 239
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