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Valdez, AK – The Alaska lifestyle is defined by its rugged individualism. Self-reliant and self-sustaining, those who have embraced the Alaskan experience take great pride in their ability to endure the challenges of its extreme wilderness.
MaryLou Vanderburg and her family had lived the Alaska lifestyle together for 18 years until life brought a challenge of its own. In August of 1994, tragedy struck when a horrific accident left her husband Craig brain damaged and paralyzed from the neck down.
“A lot of people ask if that kind of life is even worth living,” says Vanderburg. “But once you’re in that condition, it’s no longer a question of “would you like to live in a disabled state?” The question becomes, “do you want to live or die?” Our children were beyond precious to him. He didn’t want to be a burden, but we made it clear to him we wanted him alive and he indicated to me he wanted to live.”
Those first seven months serve as the inspiration for Vanderburg’s memoir No Way But Up, which explores the tragedy, its effect on her family and their brave struggle to bring Craig home from the hospital.
“When the accident first happened a friend gave me a journal,” recalls Vanderburg. “I started writing every single day what was happening and how I felt. If I hadn’t done that, I could have never written this book. That was the official record.”
“Craig helped make me into the person I became. One of his many gifts to me was the inspiration to write this book,” says Vanderburg. “My hope is that those who read it can find comfort in knowing they’re not alone. Nothing should come at the expense of your hope.”
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