The Unexpected Journey of Caring


Guests Donna Thomson and Dr. Zachary White discuss their book The Unexpected Journey of Caring. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives. Start reading ⁠The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver⁠ .

About our Guests

Donna Thomson is a caregiver, author, and activist. The mother of two grown children, one who has severe cerebral palsy and medical complexity, she also helped care for her mother who lived with dementia until she passed away in the summer of 2018 at the age of 96.

She is also the author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Life of Caregiving (McArthur and Co., 2010 and The House of Anansi Press, 2014), and blogs regularly at The Caregivers’ Living Room. She is a board director of the Kids Brain Health Network and is a leader and instructor in family engagement in health research. She also teaches families how to advocate for care at The Advocacy School and at

Dr. Zachary White Zachary began living, researching, and exploring the caregiver experience in 2002 during his mother’s diagnosis with brain cancer. His research and teaching focus on helping people manage meaning and communicate life experiences amidst high levels of uncertainty and stress. He is the founder of the award-winning blog and resource for caregivers called “The Unprepared Caregiver.”

He earned his Ph.D. in communication from Purdue University and is an Associate Professor in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. He has researched a range of care experiences, including birth (parental NICU experiences), chronic caregiver experiences, and end-of-life caregiving (hospice care). His academic articles have been published in Management Communication Quarterly, Journal of Family Communication, Communication Research Reports, OMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying, Health Communication, and Volunteering and Communication: Studies from Multiple Contexts.