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Nobody Should Go Through Cancer Alone

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Nobody Should Go Through Cancer Alone

Today is Owning Pink’s three year anniversary (Throw confetti, pop corks, do cartwheels, and light firecrackers! WOOT! Happy Anniversary, Owning Pink!)

And that’s not all. Three days ago was my 43rd (gasp!) birthday.

I remember vividly my 40th birthday, for which all my best girlfriends flew out to San Francisco for a weekend-long sleepover, dance party, wine fest, and pillow fight. Owning Pink wasn’t supposed to launch until May 1, but two days after my birthday, the social media strategist I had hired to help with the launch called me to say “I know it’s your birthday weekend and all…but…uh…there’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss.”

Turns out swine flu had just broken out and Twitter was all atwitter with panicky misinformation spewing around the internet. So I wrote my first Owning Pink post - 17 Ways To Avoid Swine Flu (and Why Not to Freak Out) and we got loads of traffic on Owning Pink’s unofficial launch day.

Go figure. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

I’m getting a little nostalgic and misty thinking back on it all, given how beautifully Owning Pink has changed my life and how vastly different my life is at 43 compared to 40. So, in honor of both celebrations, I’d like to invite you to help me pay it forward.

Nobody Goes Through Cancer Alone

Let me introduce you to Nancy Novack.  When my dear friend Nancy was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer – a diagnosis few survive – her wonderful physician assured her that she would not go through this experience alone, that he would be with her every step of the way. In that instant, Nancy knew it was not her time and she would survive, against all odds.

That was almost a decade ago and, thank God, Nancy is thriving.  Since being given a new lease on life, Nancy has dedicated her life to the nonprofit she founded, Nancy’s List, whose motto is “Nobody goes through cancer alone.”

Nancy’s List

Nancy was lucky when she was diagnosed with cancer to have a wonderful support network of people and practitioners who loved and supported her, but since then, she has met hundreds of people who lacked such love and support.  Her visionary dream is to assure than anyone in the San Francisco Bay area who winds up with a cancer diagnosis will find the support they need, the resources that will help them thrive – and perhaps even more importantly to the healing process, they’ll find community, fun, laughter, and activities that have nothing to do with cancer that allow them to make friends with others going through what they are.

Since then, Nancy’s List has hosted multiple sailing expeditions on San Francisco Bay for children with cancer (as part of her Nancy’s Kids program). She’s thrown a crazy ass fundraising dance party jam with me, wine tasting parties, events with local musicians, and dozens of other events that gather people with cancer with the people who long to support them. She also rallies the community together in beautiful ways to make life better for all the people cancer touches, not just the cancer patients, but the caregivers who nurture them.

Even my daughter and mother got involved with Nancy’s List.  For Valentine’s Day, my mother helped Siena’s school make Valentines for the kids in the cancer unit. Siena then delivered the Valentine’s with Nancy.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
3:41AM PDT on May 10, 2012

Everyone needs to feel loved and appreciated, especially during the dying process.

9:25AM PDT on May 9, 2012

I had good family and friends to rely on. Don't know what I would've done with out their support. Thanks Lissa.

3:24AM PDT on May 7, 2012


10:11AM PDT on May 5, 2012


2:46PM PDT on May 4, 2012

No they shouldn't be alone. They need our love and comfort. And hopefully smiles & laughter too.

3:13AM PDT on May 4, 2012


8:28PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Lissa. Keep up the good work.

8:26PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Friends and support give hope and courage to those with cancer.

5:30PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Hospice of Santa Rosa was wonderful when my friend was dying of liver cancer. Myself and his friend were the prime caregivers. It was hard and then we resorted to hiring outside help, it ate into his savings but gave us some respite time. You don't realize how much you can appreciate just getting out of the house to get groceries, or water the garden after being hyper vigilant 24/7.
I was honored to be with my friend to his last breath. It was painful to watch, but I didn't want him to die alone.

3:26PM PDT on May 2, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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