When Rob Harris of RobCares.com found out his wife was diagnosed with cancer (the first time), he found himself with a new role, "cancer caregiver." After supporting his wife through her first and second diagnoses, when she nearly died, Rob was inspired to help other caregivers be as effective and empowered as possible. I sat down with Rob (also a WhatNext-er) to learn more about his inspiring new book, a love story that provides practical tips for the caregiver.
What inspired you to share your family's story and write a book about your journey?
I wish I could take credit for the idea to write a book, but I cannot. I have a brother-in-law who is a published author, teacher, and college professor in, you guessed it, English and writing. He has always been by our side throughout our medical ordeals.
About three years ago, he started to "suggest" I share the knowledge I gained as a caregiver. I was not interested. My job and family were full-time activities. His suggestions became a bit more direct. Some might call it "badgering." Eventually, I agreed to write a chapter with the hope it would make him go away.
He must know me better than I thought. Once I got pushed out of the starting gate, there was no turning back. I was driven to share what I'd learned. Writing the book became my hobby, my passion and my obsession. I'm so glad he talked me into doing so. It's actually changing my life.
How has being a caregiver changed you, and changed your relationship with your wife?
My wife, Cindy and I were a typical married couple with children. However, her second battle with cancer was so severe that we actually lost her. Her heart stopped beating completely. Fortunately, she returned to this world. We learned through that event and several other near fatal episodes that we should never take another day for granted.
When she came out of Intensive Care and back into a regular hospital room, we vowed to enjoy "every stinkin' day" as if it's our last. That phrase has become our daily mantra. Each night, we ask each other, "What was your ESD moment?" Loosely translated, it means, "What did you do to make your day or someone else's memorable, meaningful and fun?"
We love giving back to the community, paying it forward and committing random acts of kindness as often as possible. Why? Because it makes us feel fantastic! None of this would have occurred if not for those harrowing months. Oh yeah, we have been more in love with each other than every before. We hate being apart and love spending as much time as we can together. For that, we are thrilled for the experience we had with cancer.
What are the three main messages you hope your readers take away after reading the book?
We offer 70 caregiver tips, but many are also "life lessons." Each one I learned on my own through personal experiences. I would like the readers of my book to :
1. Appreciate life and all it has to offer.
2. Realize that there are many avenues available to obtain assistance with whatever it is they are facing; they should not be a martyr and try to handle it all themselves.
3. No matter how bad things can be, you can always find a reason to laugh, an excuse to smile, and an opportunity to enjoy the day.
By reading We're In This Together: A Caregiver's Story, strategies will be provided as to how to be an expert caregiver, how to interact and incorporate a team concept with the care recipient, family members, friends, and especially doctors, nurses and members of the medical community.
How/when can people buy the book?