Finding Answers

As much as we plan, none of us really knows what tomorrow will bring, what an hour from now will bring.  We grow up setting goals and planning for our life in the distant future.  Planning provides an outline, target to move toward, and a landscape with borders.  Creating an outline gives us direction and makes us feel safer, serving a similar purpose as a roadmap on a long trip.  Then something life altering comes along.  We didn’t plan for it.   At first, we don’t quite know what do about it.  Could be an illness, loss of a marriage or friendship, or death.  The new road may be longer than we anticipated, it may be shorter, and it may have endless hills and cavernous valleys.  What I have learned through the struggles with my husband’s cancer and his treatments is that when the goal is clear and the whys compelling, I can usually figure out the how.  When I am struggling with a situation, it is usually because my goals are not clear or the whys compelling.

When a loved is newly diagnosed with cancer the goal is very clear.  Help find the best doctors and treatment possible.  Ask questions, pay attention to the details.  Speak up no matter how timid, forsake sleep no matter how tired, keep digging, keep asking, keep questioning.  The goal is clear: Find the best treatment.  The whys compelling: Keep them alive.

Through the process of intense caregiving, it is not uncommon for the caregiver to lose sight of their personal goals – the very goals that grounded, the very goals that provided the outline for their life.  Their personal goals are often parked indefinitely, fading as the new life emerges, forgotten.

I found a piece of paper yesterday, a note I had written to myself prior to my husband’s illness.  It included some forgotten goals and plans.  I read my former plans with excitement.  It was a peak at the forgotten me.   I realized in that moment I had stopped planning for me some time ago, and that the seemingly elusive resolutions to my current struggles are in part because I do not have clear goals with compelling reasons.  It is time to create a new road map.  With that in hand, I know the answers will come.


Jeannie Gazzaniga Moloo PhD, MS, RDN cared for her late physician husband through 12 years of blood cancer treatments, including a stem cell transplant, while raising their three young children. She is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and former owner of a clinical nutrition practice where she advised clients on healthy eating to manage heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and gastrointestinal conditions. She is a Ph.D. in epidemiology, with an emphasis in preventive medicine and environmental health. For nine years, she was a national media spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics providing sound, science-based nutrition advice to media, consumers, industry, and researchers. She has been quoted in several publications including the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Parents Magazine, and appeared on ABCNews, CBSNews, NBCNews, NPR, and KYGO-FM.

Reader Interactions


  1. Debbie Gledhill says

    Hi! Thank you for sharing! I believe it is true, getting back to your creations/ desires brings a flow of energy that helps move/ clears blocks that are on our pathways.
    I’m hopeful this helps you and us all to find joy and peace within. Sending love to you and your family.

  2. nadine glenn says

    Hi Jeannie
    Thanks for this wonderful post. It is so easy to slip into the role of caregiving and become so consumed with the illness that we forget nourishing our own spirits. Please keep sharing your inner thoughts because it is bringing much needed comfort and strength to many of us! Much love to you and the family.

  3. Sarah C. Turner says

    Jeannie, your words are more powerful than you can imagine. Your discussion of knowing the goal and the whys behind it reminds me of a quote from a leading researcher who studies the disorder that she also carries. “I continue to have concerns about my decision to be public about my illness, but one of the advantages of having had manic-depressive illness for more than thirty years is that very little seems insurmountably difficult” (Kay Redfield Jamison, “An Unquiet Mind,” pp. 7-8).

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