Tragedy to Triumph: The book All Things Caregiver

Author Tory Zellick

Recently, I was introduced to author Tory Zellick through Robb Wolf, who is a mutual friend and author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet. After getting a chance to speak with Tory, I was really impressed by her story and by the book she authored – The Medical Day Planner. She was kind enough to let us interview her for the Dan’s Plan blog. Welcome Tory!

Please tell us the history Behind The Medical Day Planner:

When most eighteen-year-olds were off exploring new college campuses, making new friends and going to their first toga parties, I was attending college, but living at home and acting as the primary caregiver for my mother who had breast cancer. I was eighteen years old when my mom was diagnosed; she was forty-four years young. After about a year filled with chemotherapy treatments, radiation, a double mastectomy and reconstruction, my mom was told she was in remission, at which point I took it upon myself to get the heck out of town and move to Hawaii. Two years later, almost to the day, I received a call from my dad telling Mom’s cancer had metastasized to her spine, ribcage and pelvis. The prognosis was grim – I left Maui as quickly as I had left California two years prior and resumed my role as caregiver.

It was a six-and-a-half year process all together before Mom finally lost her battle to breast cancer in 2009. Through those years we learned the hard way that each patient and caregiver team is completely responsible for being their own advocate. Being organized and tracking one’s own care can truly make all the difference in the world when it comes to making health-related decisions.


So, how did the The Medical Day Planner  come to be?

Shortly after Mom passed away, my brother, my dad and I packed our backpacks and purchased one-way tickets to Bangkok, Thailand, with no anticipated return date. It was our intention to spend quality time with each other and truly work through our grieving process as individuals and as a team.  The day before my twenty-fifth birthday, I found myself in quite a funk. I look back now and realize “25” is only a number, but at the time I was disappointed in myself. I had a ton of “ideas” as to where my life would be at twenty-five; college degree, married, white picket fence, and all the other things that come prescribed in the unrealistic Book Of Life.

It was the night before my twenty-fifth birthday in Haad Mae Haad when I began to truly reflect on the journey our family had been on for over six years; how unorganized and overwhelmed I had been at eighteen and how proactive we had all become by the time the journey was over. It was in that moment that the outline for The Medical Day Planner was designed.

Over the next few months, while backpacking Thailand, I would jot notes about this project in my journal.  Now, finally, after over three years, the project has come to fruition.


What are a few of your goals for the book?

According to AARP, there are over 44 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. That is an alarming number! Not to mention the countless patients who are healthy and lucid enough to care for themselves. Needless to say, everyone probably knows someone who could use this book.  That being said, it is my hopes that medical staff, physicians, nurses and other practitioners recommend this book to individuals at the beginning of diagnosis. The Medical Day Planner is a guide to help and individual, with any ailment stay organized through their treatment process. I had no idea what types of information where important to track at the beginning of our journey. Things like medication discontinue dates seemed like information that should be in the physician’s records – and they were, but only in the prescribing physician’s records.  As one continues down the road of treatments and procedures, the amount of practitioners involved increases, and not ever practitioner communicates with one another. Be your own advocate.

The Medical Day Planner give the user a fill-in-the-blank guide to tracking physician information, medications, treatments, procedures, hospitalizations, appointments and a 52-week day planner, it becomes a guide for very necessary conversations.  It helps the reader bring up topics such as end-of-life care options, including what the patient’s final wishes are in regard to treatments, advance directives, and burial. It also gives the reader advice on how to build a caregiving team; including but not limited to an attorney, CPA, insurance broker and other caregivers.  And finally, The Medical Day Planner offers helpful tips on how the caregiver can continue to care for themselves.



It is so impressive when someone is able to turn tragedy into triumph, like Tory has. The is nothing more painful than losing a loved one. It is true strength to face tragedy so directly in order to helps others navigate similar situations with less pain and hassle. Thank you, Tory. You are a hero!

Think of those in  your life who could benefit from this book. Consider sending them a copy from Amazon right now, or forward these links below so that they know about this important resource.


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