**I created Nancy’s List

I created Nancy’s List in Mill Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008 as my “love letter” to the universe, an expression of my profound gratitude for my miraculous recovery and my life.

Nancy’s List is a community partnership to meet the epidemic of cancer. We know that we cannot rely on the healthcare system to focus on the many physical, psychosocial, and spiritual challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis. But we can rely on our humanity. We can reach out and support the courage, bravery, and resilience of our neighbors.

I spent many months researching what was available and what was not to support the healing of the many in Marin County who were suffering with cancer. There was an especially high incidence of breast and prostate cancer in the area. Despite the major efforts to determine the cause of this high incidence and some very strange explications (“The woman drank too much white wine”), no one knew why. As an obvious consequence of this conundrum, families and friends were deeply affected … and in fear.

Quite serendipitously, 5 or 6 women independently came to visit with me. They were struck by the many female friends who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. These were strong, healthy women in their early 30s. They were yogis, vegans, soccer moms. Many were quite angry and depressed …. they have surmised that they were not vulnerable to cancer since they ate kale every day.

So I collected the group of very concerned women, cooked them very healthy meals, and we brainstormed about what we could do for their friends and for themselves. Amazing things can happen at these gatherings and they truly did. We planned a big party and auction. We were going to tell the San Francisco Bay Area what we were up to. We invited them to join our community call-to-action.

At our first Love Fest, I said, “It takes a village to deal with the enormity of the cancer crisis in our community. I want to build one to do that.” I placed clipboards around the party room in Sausalito asking for sign-ups — to drive their neighbors to treatments, to babysit their children, to walk the family dog, to prune the roses, to prepare and deliver healthy meals, and more.

Everyone got it!

Through our programs, cancer patients and their loved ones found community, strength, courage, healing relationships, and they laughed a lot. 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, to share pleasurable experiences with your loved ones, to meet kindred spirits along the path. Cancer patients are truly moved by the many angels in our midst. It does take a village to handle this crisis, and we built a magnificent one.

No one will ever go through cancer alone is our mission. We want every man, woman, teenager, and child who has to walk the walk to hold the hand of someone who has been there, someone who understands the cancer mystery, and who can hang in there when times are tough.

This project can be replicated in every community. I can help you do that.

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