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Survival Lessons: Novelist Alice Hoffman's Memoir about Breast Cancer

Photograph by Deborah Feingold

Who is Survival Lessons for? I wrote this book for survivors of trauma, but it’s also for the people who love them. So many of us are taught to deny illness and loss. When tragedy strikes, it’s a shock, and we’re often completely unprepared. That first happened to me in my 40s, when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She was young and vibrant, the mother of young children, with a full life ahead of her. Suddenly, time looked different because our time together was limited. And then a year later, just after she died, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I became paralyzed with fear and needed to develop survival skills to keep focused on the joy of here and now. What’s an example of a survival lesson that worked for you? Taking my dog for a walk in the woods, being in nature with a being who simply loved being alive, had a way of bringing me back to what was important. Why did you decide to write this book now, 15 years after you were diagnosed with cancer? The idea started as a talk I had been giving for years at the breast cancer center where I was treated, telling my exp …

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