What Do Puppies Have to Do With Books on Cancer?

What Do Puppies Have to Do With Books on Cancer?
August 16, 2017 Alene Nitzky
puppies and writing books

Puppies eat books, or they can serve shredders, reality-checkers, or convenient reminders to take a break from writing those books.

Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course on Cancer Survivorship Care is a new book to be released later this year, featuring, among other cancer-related projects, the Cancer Harbors and FIERCE programs.

It is currently in the editing process and is to be published by Blue Bayou Press. It will be available in both print and electronic versions in late 2017.

You can read a bit about my author journey while raising two puppies here.

The book is about the different stakeholders in healthcare: patients, caregivers, families and friends, healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, healthcare administrators and executives, policymakers and legislators, as well as the not-for-profit charitable sector, and how each of those groups can do a better job of ensuring that people with cancer have a less traumatic and more restorative experience, with better quality of life, regardless of their diagnosis, type or stage of cancer, and prognosis.

The book contains three sections in the Appendix-all proposing different ways to address the gaps in survivorship care- one is about FIERCE, one is a peek at the Cancer Harbors program, and one is a proposal to improve the public’s knowledge and understanding about cancer so they are better able to advocate for themselves in the healthcare system and to support those who have been diagnosed.

One of the many struggles with getting new ideas into the healthcare community is that it takes a long time. Anecdotal estimates are one to two decades before a new concept goes from introduction to actually being practiced. It is important to have good, solid science and data behind interventions, but there are times when it is necessary to use existing, tangential data and common sense together in the absence of specific empirical evidence around a new idea, especially when it is a low-risk, community-based activity.

While preliminary data are being gathered on programs like FIERCE and Cancer Harbors, it is important to remember that most cancer survivors wish to be people, not patients, and quality of life is a prime concern. If healthcare providers wait the one or two decades for all of the data to be gathered because they are afraid to recommend something that isn’t “evidence-based”, but makes plenty of common sense outside the clinical setting, such as physical activity and self-care education for cancer survivors, then providers may be inadvertently contributing to prolonged suffering by not recommending them. We have plenty of data to support physical activity and exercise for cancer patients and the general population already.

Changes in the way we practice medicine and care for people with cancer are needed. Providers should not be rushed, they need support staff and patient loads that are reasonable. They need to have time to find out what resources are available in their communities, that can support their patients when they leave the clinical setting. We need to find a way to make practicing medicine conducive to normal human functioning, so that people will want to become physicians again.  The healthcare system must move to a more collaborative, functional, patient-and community-friendly model that builds transdisciplinary respect across healthcare professions and serves to restore quality of life for patients, not hinder them.

Navigating the C provides insight and solutions for the most vexing issues around providing good care for people with cancer. And puppies certainly could help with that, too.


  1. Kim Sharpe 3 years ago

    I look forward to sharing your book once it’s in print, Alene! Thank you for your work to help others.

  2. Author
    Alene Nitzky 3 years ago

    Thanks Kim! Please let me know when you’re in town again, I’d love to catch up with you!

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