An Author’s Account on Finding Meaning After a Cancer Diagnosis

 For a cancer patient, the day you hear the words “You Have Cancer” is a day you’ll never forget.  After hearing the three words no one wants to hear, author Alana Somerville shares her story on finding meaning after a life-changing diagnosis.

“You have cancer”

The day that I heard the words “You have cancer” was obviously life changing, but it’s not actually where my story begins. That was the day that I had to accept what I was already thinking, and begin my battle.

The moment I found my lump was a defining moment in this journey, and it could easily be given the prize for the day that “actually changed my life.”

You see, there is a period of time, a process, during which your mind mentally prepares itself for those fateful words, “You have cancer.”  For some people, this time frame is shorter, and for others it’s longer. Usually tests need to be done in order to actually confirm a diagnosis. Although people often know something is wrong with their body, it may take months or even years for that positive cancer diagnosis.

My “waiting period” was about three weeks. Three weeks from feeling that lump, and wondering if it was cancer, until I heard those dreaded words.

For three weeks, those words played over and over in my head, and so, in a way, it almost wasn’t a shock when I heard the official diagnosis. For three weeks, I had prepared myself for that moment, while hoping and praying the whole time that I would hear instead that everything was fine. But somehow I think I just knew.

Similar to the grieving process, there were many stages during this three-week period that I went through.

First stage was denial

Of course, the first stage was denial. However, my denial didn’t prevent me from going to get the lump checked out.

Sometimes people are afraid. They have something called “Ostrich Syndrome.” They bury their head in the sand, so to speak, and figure that if they simply don’t go to see a doctor, they won’t get any bad news. But that’s just extending the process and delaying a diagnosis—sometimes resulting in the diagnosis coming too late.

After denial, came anger

After denial, came anger, as I was entirely frustrated that I was dealing with such a thing. Even though I hadn’t been officially diagnosed, I was angry that I had to deal with it, and angry that I didn’t have all of the answers right away. I bargained with myself—a lot. I told myself that if I didn’t end up having cancer, I would clean up my act. I would be healthier, from that moment forward. I would exercise more, eat better, and de-stress regularly. I told myself that this was just a close call, and I would make sure it didn’t happen again.

Then there was an acceptance…

I had spent three weeks worrying and wondering if it actually was cancer, and when I found out that, yes, it was, although I was upset, it was almost a relief. I felt as though now I could do something about it. I had spent three weeks imagining this moment in my head, and here it was.

I am impatient. Waiting was difficult. Not knowing was tough. At least when I heard the words “You have cancer,” I could then do something about it.

And I did.

About the Author


Alana Somerville is a mother of two, teacher, and real-estate sales representative. Never one to sit still, when she isn’t teaching, she can likely be found with her children at a hockey arena, dance rehearsal or soccer field. Her children are her number one priority, and her drive for life is greatly inspired by them. Holding on to Normal is her first book. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @AlanaSomerville

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