Saturday, September 23, 2017

A caregiver’s guide

Tragic losses to cancer inspires Sparta author to pen award-winning book

Susan Brownell has seen her share of suffering.

Her mother, father, step mother, step father, mother-in-law and her mother-in-law’s second husband and brother all succumbed to cancer.

And Brownell was there for each of them as a caregiver.

“I noticed so many things in common that everybody goes through in that experience,” she said. “And yet, when you’re caught up in the emotions of it, you can’t see some of the obvious things you could do to help yourself and to help your loved one because it’s all so emotional.”

That’s why Brownell decided to pen a book, which became two books, one of which was recently singled out for recognition at the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards.

Her book “Cocoon of Love for Cancer Caregivers: Get Through the Tough Times”, won in the caregiving category.

The book is a guide for caregivers, offering tips, techniques and hard-learned advice for those struggling through stressful times when caring for a sick loved one.

Her other book, “Cocoon of Love for Caregivers”, is a collection of short, inspirational readings for caregivers.

The title for the series came from Brownell’s mother, when she was suffering from cancer and all seven of her children came home to see her.

“Because of  all the loving acts and compassion she said she felt like she was being surrounded by a cocoon of love,” recalled Brownell.

“Just seeing how the family came together and was so loving and compassionate that she was surrounded by a cocoon of love. I thought I had to write a book about this, never dreaming that I was going to go through this so many times.”

While she knew she had the title for the book, the book itself took 20 years to write.

“I started it and life got in the way,” she said.

Brownell moved to Sparta in 1973, after her husband, Jim, left the Air Force and started working at Ft. McCoy. Brownell also worked on post, while raising two children.

She retired in 2011, and thought she would have time to devote to her writing. Unfortunately, she and Jim started getting sick and eventually found out it was because of hidden mold in their house.

The couple was forced to rebuild from scratch and the book was put on hold.

Brownell had trademarked the title “Cocoon of Love”, which she had to use within a certain time or she would lose the rights to it. With that deadline approaching, she spent day and night finishing the book and published it in October 2013, just hours before the deadline.

The rush job left the book below Brownell’s standards and she actually didn’t want people to buy it, fearing someone would give it a bad review. She finalized the book exactly two years later, re-publishing it in October 2015.

Brownell is hoping the award will be a boost for book sales, but her real purpose for writing it was to help others. That’s just part of her caregiving character.

“I thought if I could just put those things in a book to spare other people from that learning curve, maybe it would help just a little bit,” she said. “How do you make life as good as it can be at a time like that.”

Brownell has a few other books in the hopper, one a children’s book and the other an adult humor book.

“I need to turn to something light hearted for a while because this is heavy duty stuff. It wears you down,” she said. “You’re reliving everything that went on as you’re writing the book.”

The “Cocoon of Love” books are available at Sparta Pharmacy, Maiden Wisconsin, House Warmings in Bangor, the gift shops at Gundersen and Mayo hospitals in La Crosse and “Cocoon of Love for Caregivers” is also available on Kindle.

You can check out Brownell’s blog at



Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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