Nancy Novak: Encouraging Courage

Nancy Novak
Nancy's List

Nancy Novak: Overcoming Adversity by Giving Back

Nancy Novak is a psychologist, author of I AM With You: Love Letters To Cancer Patients, and founder of Her remarkable journey started in 2004:


“I thought I had appendicitis. On April 29, 2004, I had pain in the right side of my belly that didn’t want to go away. I went to my internist who examined me and immediately sent me for a CT scan … whatever that was, I did not know.

 In what seemed to be an interminably long time, she called me in and asked,


Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news.

You don’t have appendicitis.


Wow! All right.


Ready for the bad news?



You have stage 4 ovarian cancer.

Your liver is two times its appropriate size,
more like a small watermelon.

Your right ovary is the size of a grapefruit.


I said two now-remarkable things …

Thank goodness it is not appendicitis!

What is stage 5?”


So started a journey that would change Nancy’s life and through her efforts and generosity, would impact the lives of many more.

Along the way was an oncologist with both heart and expertise; the incredible Rachel Naomi Reman; and talks with patients that let to the development of Nancy’s List.

This conversation is so full of heart and wisdom that rather than try to touch on the topics of courage, trust, the will to live, and so much more, please listen to Nancy Novak:


​Bump In The Road:

Nancy Novak


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Nancy Novak’s Journey

All journeys have chance encounters that impact the ultimate course of our travels. One of the very influential people Nancy met was Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom  and My Grandfather’s Blessings.


Rachel Naomi Remen

Wisdom for all time


Rachel Naomi Remen

More from Rachel Naomi Remen


The meeting with Rachel Naomi Remen was meant to be a continuing education (CE) credit but turned into a long term friendship. Rather than CE, Nancy realized that she was there to define her relationship with her body and a disease that nearly killed her.

“My Oncologist saved my body. Rachel saved my soul.”


In this second part of the podcast for Bump II members, we explore Nancy’s relationship with Rachel Naomi Remen, the nomenclature of cancer, and the strength and importance of the will to live. For Bump II members, there is also Rachel’s “Keeping A Heart Journal”.

Bump II subscribers can log in here to listen to the second half of the podcast.


Nancy Novak: Wisdom, Perspective, Love and Gratitude




“Nancy’s List is my love letter to the universe…”


“‘Yours is a bleak diagnosis…I am with you.’ Those four words became the most important words in my life.”


“What I was blessed with was this opening..these people (oncology staff) were so committed to my healing, so I was too.” 


“I think healing is about relationship.”


“Are you going towards life or away from life?”


“Encourage is encouraging courage.”


“When the tuna casseroles stop coming, you’re left with a lot of emotional stuff to deal with.”


“My oncologist saved my body. Rachel saved my soul.”

“There’s some beautiful blessing to be had from the people we meet along this cancer path.”

On the conversations that led to starting Nancy’s List:


“I’m a psychologist. I like to talk to people…It was beyond discomfort when I herd not that people were talking about living and dying, but they were talking about not having the money to live…the money to pay the medical bills, the money to put food on the table vs. their medications. “


“They talked more about the money than they talked about dying. That was unacceptable.”


“The big fear is if you can’t afford it, you can’t get the treatment….The bottom line: It gets in the way of healing.”










Bump in the Road

Everyone hits a bump in the road. The question becomes: What do you do with it?

I share stories about how people experience, manage and navigate life's bumps, hopefully using them as a pivot into a more conscious and meaningful life.