The Runner and I just got back from a little trip to Zion National Park, celebrating our one-year anniversary. We stayed in a little cabin that’s actually inside the park: wood floor, gas fireplace, and a beautiful view.
We went on two runs, two hikes, and two bike rides. And ate ourselves silly. For a couple that loves the outdoors and wants a reasonably-priced, uncrowded romantic getaway, I highly recommend late winter in the cabins in Zion National Park.
What was really great about the stay, though, was that our cabin had no phone (including no mobile phone reception) or TV. I had time to think. And to let my thoughts settle.
And at some point during this trip, everything came together. The Big Idea I’ve had swirling around in my mind — creating a Caretaker’s Companion book and companion website — gelled into an actual plan.
I went from thinking about “someday” to “ASAP.” Because this is the thing I think I can do in my lifetime that will actually make a difference in the world. And I believe my personal and work experience have given me what may be a unique ability to create something that can improve the lives of thousands of people.
And — since I’ve never been one for keeping cards close to my vest — I’m going to lay out what I want to do and the things I need to do it.
And I would love your feedback, because this is still early stages, and I would love to get your good ideas on how to make this plan better and make it work well.
The Elevator Pitch
When you have cancer, it takes everything you’ve got to simply fight that cancer. It falls to your caretaker — a loved one who wants you to give that fight everything you’ve got — to take care of everything else: your doctors, your food, your comfort, your wellwishers, your medicine, everything. And like millions of other people who have been caretakers of loved ones with cancer, I know that the job of being a caretaker can be overwhelming.
It can also, if you know how to approach the job, the most rewarding thing you have ever done.
I want to write a book called The Cancer Caretaker’s Companion. This book will combine the lessons, questions, tips, tricks, advice and inspirational stories from approximately 25 people (including myself) who have been the primary caretaker of a person with cancer.
The wisdom of these caretakers’ experience — gleaned from dozens of in-person interviews — will be combined with the expertise of people who see and help caretakers on a daily basis: oncologists, nurses, insurance professionals, dietitians and more.
By reading this book — and visiting the companion Cancer Caretaker Community website — caretakers will learn invaluable techniques for helping their loved ones during — and beyond — treatment, learn the right questions to ask doctors and nurses, and get the invaluable support and inspiration from others who have been there.
The caretaker has the most important job in the world when they are helping a loved one fight cancer. The Cancer Caretaker’s Companion will help them do that job better and easier.
Why I am the Right Person to Write this Book
There’s no question in my mind that this book needs to be written, nor that there is pent-up demand for this book. For every person fighting cancer, there’s another person giving them the support they need to engage that fight fully.
There are three reasons, however, why I’m the perfect person to write this book.
- I have personal experience. I have lived through the process of being a caretaker. For five years, I was my wife’s caretaker as she battled breast cancer. I have learned hundreds of valuable lessons and want to share them. This matters to me.
- I have professional experience. I will create this book using techniques similar to how I do my day job at an IT research company. I find people to talk with, interview them, extract the key learnings from those interviews, and work with teams of experts to interpret and organize the insights we have uncovered. This will not be a book based on one person’s recollections; it will be a thoroughly, expertly researched book with guidance from both caretakers and professionals, conducted by a person (me) who does this for a living.
- I am a writer. My experience both with cancer and research could make for a tragic book or a dry book, but they won’t. I have experience both as a professional writer and editor, and the style I will bring to this book will be the same conversational style I bring to the blog that has won “Best Sports Blog” (three times) and “Lifetime Achievement” awards. In short, this book will not just be helpful, it will be uplifting and readable.
What I’m Going to Do, and What I Need to Do It
To make this book happen, here’s what I imagine myself doing.
- Complete the first Best of Fatty book. I’ve outlined three volumes for The Best of Fatty. Yes, really. Before I do much of anything else, I need to get at least the first one complete and see if I can get some pre-orders going for it. Why? Because building the Caretaker’s Companion site and interviewing dozens of people in person (for something like this, phone calls won’t do) is going to cost me a bundle. I need money to gather the wisdom this book needs.
- Launch the Caretaker’s Companion site. I’ll need people who are willing to help me get this site off the ground; it will be more sophisticated than a blog. I’ll need help with design and coding, at the very least.
- Assemble a team. While I’ll be writing this book myself, I will assemble a team of people to lend their professional advice, in order to supplement what I’ll learn from caretakers themselves. Initially, I’m thinking an oncologist, a nurse that works with an oncologist, a hospice nurse, a radiologist, a dietitian that has worked with cancer patients, and an insurance professional. But I would love to hear ideas of other professionals you’d like insights from.
- Find partners. I’m hopeful that LiveStrong will work with me on this book — both for finding people to participate, and in promoting the book itself.
- Find a publisher. I’ll need a publisher who has the vision to support this book, long-term and through multiple editions. If you’re with a publisher and you think we’re a good fit, please email me.
- Get interviewing and writing. Once I have the pieces in place, the actual work of researching, interpreting, and consolidating what caretakers know is something I’m good at. And writing is something I know how to do.
I kind of feel like a big chunk of the experiences in my life have led me to this point. I understand an important problem, I have the tools and experience to study and learn how to help others who have this problem, and I am lucky enough to be a good enough writer to tell the stories and give the guidance well.
I have to say, I’m incredibly excited to have a vision of something I can do to make the world a better place.
I can hardly wait to get to work.