My guest, Nancy Novack, was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer in 2004. It had metastasized into her liver. She was too happily innocent about the cancer world and said two now-remarkable things: “Thank goodness, it is not appendicitis,” and “What is stage V?”
Nancy says she is oftentimes asked what she did that was so unique, so mysterious that she survived a lethal dose of cancer, the silent killer as ovarian cancer is often called. She says she was extraordinarily fortunate to have an excellent psychologist who worked closely with her to define and refine her personal relationship to her own cancer. She was blessed with a magnificent A-team of friends and family and so many angels that embraced her. She says the opening of my heart to new loves and old brought forth an attitude of blessed gratitude that I had never known before. When I read and re-read the stories written by cancer survivors, I see the universality of the attitude of gratitude in the process of healing.”
Nancy’s mission since her “cancer journey” is all about determining the unmet needs of cancer patients, especially the emotional aspects, and doing her best to find a way to fill them. She is a psychologist and has significant concerns that the medical community does not address the levels of anxiety and stress and existential chaos that come with a cancer diagnosis … all of which get in the way of healing. Her Foundation Nancy’s List supports the emotional well-being of all those who are living with cancer … the patients and those who love and care for them.
Her path started with finding ways to assist cancer patients with a national listing of financial assistance programs available to the cancer community. She was profoundly troubled that these kindred souls were experiencing so much fear and anxiety about their finances. How would that reality affect the possibility of their recovery? She vowed to make a difference and knew that financial assistance was out there somewhere and she was determined to make it accessible. She received a 501 ©(3) non-profit status in 2006 and launched her first website. Nancy’s List was intended to be simply a list of financial resources and her intention was to educate cancer patients and their loved ones and the healing professionals who serve them about the accessibility of these programs.
At the same time, she created a community call-to-action in the San Francisco Bay Area to reach out and support the courage, bravery, and resilience of our neighbors. Through the Nancy’s List programs, cancer patients and their loved ones found community, strength, courage, pleasure, and healing relationships. There is healing power when one is connected to the larger community, especially when you are experiencing fear, loneliness, isolation, and uncertainty. It means everything to know your neighbors are looking out for you. And it is a very good thing to meet kindred souls along the path.
I Am With You: Love Letters to Cancer Patients is a powerful book for the newly diagnosed patient, for those who are going through treatment or have entered remission, for loved ones, and for everyone else in the world. She created the anthology with 42 authors who truly share her vision, passion, and mission. It brings hope and courage to patients when they need inspiration, when they are feeling the loneliness and fear and anger and loss that go hand in hand with a cancer diagnosis, when they need comfort and a warm heart and a hand to hold. The book offers connection to kindred spirits who ‘know’.
Nancy is now developing a comprehensive national directory of integrative healing practitioners who offer their services (and their souls) to deepen the healing process. The goal is for all cancer patients to have the opportunity to experience healing other than their dreadful visits to the infusion rooms, radiation offices, and more. She wants to educate patients and healing professionals about the enormous benefits of integrative healing services AND the accessibility of these therapies. The process is very simple. They write a blurb, add a jpg and contact info, email Nancy at Nancy@NancysList.org, and she post it on the comprehensive directory.