by Russ Messing, Ph.D.
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE has turned into a nationwide community event, thanks to the work of Nancy Novack.
Nearly 14 years ago, when my dear friend Nancy told us about her cancer diagnosis, shock, then sadness, and then the incredibly rapid dawning that this could be the end for our lifelong friendship struck us like so many blows. What did we do? We did not wallow. We did not beat our breasts. We jumped in with both feet. We drove with Nancy to her doctors’ appointments, and sat with her in silence, in grief, in hope, and in encouragement. We shared her fears. We walked beside our friend both figuratively and literally. Of course, it helped that Nancy is an indefatigable optimist, a doer, and a courageous woman.
“I won’t have hair? Oh well, I’ll get the most outrageous and glamorous wig. In fact, I’ll get a few.”
“People will be afraid to talk to me about this? Oh, well, I’ll talk about it, I will demystify it, I will enlist people’s support. I’ll create a nonprofit to help people deal with the shock, the reality, the disbelief, and the terror of the diagnosis.”
“My psychology practice will be negatively affected? Don’t even think about it. I have a story to tell of courage and resilience and coping. How can that not be helpful to others?”
Nancy’s can-do attitude, her ability to fight through her fears and doubts, the fatigue, the pain, the uncertainty — all were and are essential in her one-step-at-a-time triumphs.
This book is one of those triumphs. It is for and because of you.
About Russ …
I am a psychologist, a poet, a committed father and husband, and Nancy’s long-time friend (sixty-two years, plus or minus). Nancy’s project matters to me because I believe she shines a warm and optimistic light over the scourge of cancer. Her story is one of resilience, unabashed optimism, courage, and commitment. It has been an honor to walk beside her.