Nancy Novack is a Radical Remission survivor of stage 4 ovarian cancer. Diagnosed at the age of 60, she combined conventional and alternative methods to overcome incredible odds. All these years later, she currently has no evidence of disease.
Here is her story in her own words:
I thought I had appendicitis. I was having pain in the right side of my belly that didn’t seem to go away. I was bloated. I went to my internist who examined me and immediately sent me for an emergency CT scan. The good doctor said, “The good news is that it is not appendicitis. The bad news is that you have stage 4 ovarian cancer which has filled your liver.” I was too happily innocent about the cancer world and I said two now-remarkable things: “Thank goodness it is not appendicitis,” and “What is stage V?”
I had no idea what any of that meant, despite living on this planet, mostly in northern California, for sixty years. I didn’t know anything about cancer treatment, the statistics, what was ahead of me.
I was treated at Stanford. The typical MO for ovarian is a major de-bulking (a hysterectomy X 10). My brilliant oncologist said to the surgery teammates, who were sharpening their scalpels, that I was too sick to do that procedure.
We began aggressive chemotherapy immediately … as much as my body could handle. I truly believe that decision saved my life.
I have not had a recurrence in 16 years. I have not had any form of cancer in that time. I have not changed my lifestyle or engaged in any treatments. I do eat well, exercise, and have immense gratitude for every day.
I am often asked about my understanding of my healing process such as “Did you sit under a lotus tree in Tanzania?” “What secret therapies did you try?” I think there are other explanations that encouraged my healing.
I was blessed with a magnificent A Team. These dear friends held my hand and my heart throughout the challenging journey. And I was blessed with cards and letters from sweet family and friends, who came from my kindergarten classes to now, and from many people I never had the honor of knowing before my diagnosis. Trust and transformation. I totally trusted my oncologist and the support staff at Stanford. I followed their instructions. My doctor said to me, “Yours is a very bleak diagnosis. It will be a rocky road. But hang in there. I think I can help you. I am with you.” Our relationship, his courage, caring, intelligence, and unwavering commitment to get me well from that very first night transformed my experience of trust.
His support and understanding and commitment to my life made me realize my dream of getting well. My oncologist laid the foundation within my spirit for true trust: an opening of my heart to the amazing generosity of strangers, to the compassion and sensitivity of the chemo infusion teams, to other patients, and to the beauty of my friends and loved ones.
When people ask, and they often do, “What happened? How did you make it when so many others do not survive stage 4 ovarian cancer?” I don’t have any answers to that mystery. I do know, for certain, that the opening of my heart, the receiving of the blessings and the love, the sense of abundance of good will coming my way changed my being — during my cancer and forever more.
I am the luckiest lady in the world. I truly enjoy defying medical statistics and being the poster child for Stanford’s Cancer Center.
I made a vow to make a difference for people living with cancer, for those who love and care for them, and for the children who have a cancer diagnosis or love someone who has. My simple and profound wish is that no one will ever go through cancer alone. I started Nancy’s List to help my community cope with the epidemic of cancer.
For me, cancer changed everything. It generated my growth. It taught me the essence of gratitude. I adore the generosity of strangers. It defined my calling and refined my purpose as a psychologist. It gave me the opportunity to offer hope to those who have lost theirs. I found my courage and resilience.
[Regarding what may cause cancer], I have always wondered if my “experimentation” with hormone replacement therapy was a cause for my cancer. I tried various drugs and intuitively felt this was not appropriate for me. I did not have the gene mutation. There may be no single cause of cancer … perhaps there is no “cause” of cancer. It seems so random. Many of the clients I have counseled had cancer, although they were strict yoginis, vegans, and more. From my perspective, our research should be guided by finding effective treatments, particularly for such chemo-resistant cancers like ovarian, rather than causation.
Editor’s Note: As of February 2022, Nancy is well and thriving post diagnosis.
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