Reporter: “So how did you come up with the idea for your walk?”
Yer Big Dog: “Well, I’m from Texas and everything’s bigger down there. When we lose a loved one to cancer we don’t walk around a park. We walk across the country.”
Now that Murphy had a brother and I returned to the world of lucidity, it was time to take inventory and fulfill my second promise to Malcolm. But devoting the rest of my life to finding out what took him from me was no small order. How in the hell does someone like me go about it?
I wasn’t a scientist and though I possessed a basic understanding of genetics, cellular biology, biochemistry and the like from my pre-med days in college, I wasn’t about to return to school. That’d be poor resource allocation. That’s when my business mind kicked into high octane.
What’s the market problem? Problem (a). When Malcolm was diagnosed in 2004 there was a serious paucity of scientific data, I think a sum total of 3 or 4 articles on osteosarcoma back then and not much more on the others. Okay, so we need more research which means we need more scientists working on canine cancer which means we need more money. And after expending all of my resources on Malcolm’s care, I pretty much had none.
But even before I got his diagnosis I was oblivious to the reality that companion animals developed cancer and everyone I talked to subsequent was, too which meant problem (b) awareness was the greatest challenge. And like I learned in business if you're not going after the biggest obstacle you may as well be doing nothing.
Exactly how to go about it was the next question.
Everyone with a great idea wants to reflect back on the flash of brilliance it came from but honestly, it’s a lot messier than that.
Two notions preoccupied my mind throughout the winter of 2006: (1) How to spread the word to the greatest amount of people and with no money; and (2) how to get back to New England and begin again.
Finally, after musing over it for a seemingly endless amount of time, the smart ass side of my inner dialogue spoke up. ‘Well, why don’t you walk home, tough guy?”
I fall for it every time.
“You’re an idiot”, the practical, rational-self answered. “That’s the stupi…Wait. Wait a sec. Why don’t I walk home. Why don’t I walk home? Why don’t I walk home!!!”
It was ludicrous… preposterous… but it just might be possible. Plus, Hudson and Murphy and I could walk from town to town sharing Malcolm’s story and educating people about cancer in companion animals. Having driven from Boston to Austin many times before I knew it was about 2,000 miles on the money and even a girl from California could walk that far.
But could the boys make the journey safely? Which route would we take? What gear and equipment would we need? My mind raced with thoughts and concerns and crazy ideas but the most important question I had at the time, “What should we call it?”
YBD’s Notes 1: Some people may find my characterization of canine cancer as a market problem crass but that’s how the ole coconut works.
YBD’s Notes 2: Next week, we’ll finish up with Chapter 10 and we are nearing the end of the Book 1.