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In the whirlwind of life with three young sons, an active member in her tight-knit community, Ruth Rakoff felt in supreme control of her wide world. But when a routine mammogram revealed a tumor, that world rapidly shrunk down to the size of one breast. 
And so begins the journey of biopsy, surgery, chemotherapy, all accompanied by tidal waves of anxiety and grief: how to tell the children? Should she consider having a healthy breast removed, in case the cancer returns? Will food ever taste good again? Amid all the worry and change, there is also overwhelming gratitude for a stalwart network of family and friends who strive to help and support, to comfort and delight — even as everyone longs for the old normal of daily life. 

Through stories, confessions and anecdotes, Ruth Rakoff shows just what is at stake when cancer shows up at the party uninvited. There is no sugarcoating of either the physical or emotional pain of dealing with the disease or the effects of the poisons used to combat it. But for Rakoff, a life without laughter is not worth living. Brazen and irreverent, Ruth tells us that socks, no matter how luxurious, are not a cancer present. That no number of crystal-waving shamans can beat the healing power of good food, good friends and a raucous night on the town. And that just because you have cancer, you don’t have to be a better person.

Far more than just a recounting of disease and recovery, When My World Was Very Small is an intimate, colorful, one-of-a-kind memoir that celebrates life, love and family.

From the Hardcover edition.

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