Words of Wellness: Good Days Are For Walking

When Donna Mucks was told by veterinarians that her beloved dog, Tasha, had cancer she knew it was going to be a difficult journey – not only for Tasha, but for the whole family. Donna documented Tasha’s cancer treatment every step of the way and developed a children’s book that shows the ups and downs of cancer through the eyes of her pet. “Good Days Are For Walking” is a way to honor Tasha’s memory, while helping children better understand what cancer is and what getting through it entails.

Q: What made you decide to get treatment for Tasha?

A: She was only 11 years old, and she was otherwise in amazing health. We felt she was strong enough to handle the treatments, and she was such a big part of our life. We just weren’t ready to let her go. The doctors gave us about a 50/50 chance that she would make it and get better, so we took that chance.

Q: You could have done so many things with the story of Tasha, why did you choose a children’s book?

A: This is a difficult question to answer. When people ask me where the idea for this book come from, my answer is always, ‘I’m not really sure.’ As a singer and songwriter I think there is a storyteller in me. When Tasha was going through her treatments, I wanted to write it down. I started journaling, and it was from her voice. That is how the project started. I think it also came from my work with The KEYS Program, which is a foundation for children fighting cancer and other serious illnesses.  As I was going through this I was thinking why this might be good for those children to talk about what they are going through, by seeing their situation through the eyes of Tasha and being able to remove themselves from the situation. Also for other children who may not have cancer themselves, but may know someone going through cancer. It can help them understand what is happening and they can see that there are good days and there are bad days – and what it takes to get though them. I never thought I would write a book in my life, but it just kind of happened.

Q: What do you think this can teach children about cancer?

A: It covers a lot of different things. If you are a child with cancer, if you are a child who knows someone with cancer or if you are a parent trying to teach your children about cancer. And even though I don’t talk about the loss of a pet you can kind of come to your own conclusion at the end and start talking about what is going on. If a child has lost a pet, this book would be helpful for the discussion process.

Q: Why did you decide to add a readers guide and a glossary?

A: I think that comes from the association with The KEYS program. I wanted the book to be more than just a story. When I was putting it together, I wanted there to be a way that I could make it more helpful. It can be hard for the parent if you don’t know how to start this discussion. Both the reader’s guide and the glossary are simple basic things, and I am hoping if people use them, they will start generating their own questions and go from there.

Q: What do you want people to take away from this book?

A: I think the best example is the line at the end of the book that you can get through anything with faith, family and friends – and with the interaction that everyone worked together and cared for each other while we were going through it. People should know you can get through hard times with that support system and talking about things.

Q: How has this project helped you personally?

A: If I think through what we went through with the grief of losing Tasha, and the whole process, it helped keep her memory alive. It helped with knowing that although physically she died, she is still here helping others. When I originally got Tasha I wanted her to be a therapy dog. I wanted to be able to take her to work at hospitals and nursing homes – but she just didn’t have the personality to do that. She was a little too high strung. So when all of this happened, and I was working on and finishing the book, I knew that in spirit, she has ended up being a therapy dog after all.

For more information on this book, visit www.gooddaysareforwalking.com.