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Still Alice Offers a Compelling Portrayal of Alzheimer's

August 20, 2013

Washington Women's Center Book Club Provides a Forum for Exploring the Novel

Still Alice offers a compelling portrayal of the devastating toll that Alzheimer's disease can take on its victims and their loved ones. This debut novel by Lisa Genova tells the story of a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's.

Dr. Alice Howland is a psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband John. When she first begins forgetting things, she thinks it might be due to menopause. But when she gets lost jogging on a familiar route near her house, she knows something more serious is happening. But she is completely unprepared for the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's.

The bestselling novel will be discussed at the next Washington Women's Center Book Club meeting on Wednesday, September 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Book Club will meet in the Washington Women's Center Conference Room, located in Suite 145, at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont.

"A lot of people have a personal tie to Alzheimer's, so they can relate to this story," said Patty Chadwell, a registered nurse and Breast Care Navigator who leads the Washington Women's Center Book Club. "It reads more like a memoir than a novel and provides a true portrayal of what it must be like to face the onset of Alzheimer's."

Still Alice is an award-winning book and a book club favorite. It spent 41 weeks on the New York Time bestseller list and won the 2008 Bronte Prize and the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year. The novel was the #6 Top Book Group Favorite of 2009 by Reading Group Choices, a 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, a 2009 Indie Next pick, a 2009 Borders Book Club Pick, and a 2009 Target Book Club pick.

A Comfortable Place for Women

The Washington Women's Center provides a comfortable place for women to get their health and wellness needs met. The center combines advanced diagnostic services and an expert clinical staff with a host of wellness and support programs for local women. The warm, soothing surroundings and personal amenities are specifically designed to help women feel calm and comforted as they benefit from a wide range of easy-to-access health care programs in a single setting.

This is the second read for the Book Club, which was created by the Washington Women's Center earlier this year. The first book the group read and discussed was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

"We wanted to provide a forum for women to get together and talk in a more informal setting," Chadwell explained. "People read things differently, so it's interesting to hear other views. We purposefully have chosen books that don't have anything to do with breast cancer even though that is a huge focus of the Women's Center. This gives women the opportunity to talk about something else, and Alzheimer's is another issue that many women are dealing with, whether they are caregivers or are concerned about their own health. Alzheimer's can be a scary topic and getting the disease is a fear many of us have. A lot of books about Alzheimer's are from the perspective of the caregiver, but this is from the perspective of someone who is facing it."

The Book Club is open to anyone in the community who wants to read the book and discuss it with others. Chadwell will lead the group with a set of discussion questions, but she said the group ultimately guides the talk.

For more information or to learn about other services offered at the Washington Women's Center, visit www.whhs.com/womenscenter.