It’s hard to decide how to start a review about this wonderful book. It is part memoir, chronicling the author’s journey through one of the worst nightmares a woman can face and part how-to: How to face the breast cancer from the first diagnosis, through finding the right doctor and the right treatment, to how you live the rest of your life.

Written in a light, breezy style, the book offers specific advice about how to deal with the flood of emotions associated with getting a diagnosis of cancer, especially the fear. In her first chapter titled: Kill Fear Before it Kills You she writes, “Finding out you have breast cancer is like being thrown into an abyss. But there’s a bottom down there somewhere, and once you reach it, you’re already past the worst.”

There are sections of the book that are inspirational in their bluntness. For instance, in one chapter she writes about how getting the diagnosis of cancer was in some ways a gift. It enabled her to take stock of her life and what she wanted out of it, especially if it should prove limited. She encourages other women facing the disease to do the same. Don’t let the disease strangle your life. “We can hash out who we are and what we actually want and what matters to us most.”

The inspiration and encouragement throughout the book are aimed at women with breast cancer, but there are a myriad of little quotes that could be uplifting for someone facing any kind of serious disease. For instance: “But no-one is “dying of cancer” – what a horrible, dishonest expression that is. There is no “dying.” There is only alive or dead. As long as we are alive, there is always hope.”

Cheryl Swanson wrote her first novel, a young adult thriller, Death Game, while going through the treatment for her cancer, as well as following through on adopting a child from Guatemala. While she doesn’t recommend that every woman take on so much, she does encourage women to take on something. She believes that women should focus on what excites them in life, and that helps keep everything else in perspective.

Along with the inspiration and encouragement, Swanson has packed her book with lots of specific information on how to screen doctors, how to evaluate treatment plans, what tests you should have, dealing with hospitals and insurance companies, and life after treatment.

Busting Loose in an absolute must-read for any women with cancer, but the benefit of reading it is even broader than that.
# Paperback: 332 pages
# Publisher: Zumaya Publications, LLC (October 14, 2009)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1934841749
# ISBN-13: 978-1934841747

Reviewed by Maryann Miller — visit her Web site here

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