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Nancy did all of that while facing and surviving cancer. Five times. She was in her mid-20s, living in Iowa, a busy but happy stay-athome mom with two small kids, when a doctor’s phone call changed her life. “He told me I had thyroid cancer,” Nancy says. Surgery and radioactive iodine helped her survive. But it was a road she’d walk again. Breast cancer in her 40s. Colon cancer in her early 50s. At age 59, breast cancer returned. Then in 2020, Stage 4 lymphoma. “It’s scary when you get a diagnosis,” she says. “But each time I was determined to keep doing the things I loved. I wanted to think positive rather than dwell on the cancer.” The things Nancy loves are many. Family and friends. Keeping active. Building her career. When her children got older, she wrote advertising copy for radio and television stations. That opened doors into media ad sales, and she eventually rose to become general manager of television stations throughout the upper Midwest. “Those were fun jobs,” she remembers. “Working with creative people, traveling to conventions, rubbing shoulders with celebrities. Cancer happened, but I didn’t want it to stop my active life.” For Nancy that also meant trying new things. “Many work friends played golf so I signed up for lessons. When a new cancer diagnosis ruled that out, I tried yoga.” She loved it and became a certified instructor. An avid biker, she set – and achieved – a goal to bike through Europe to celebrate her 50th birthday. Her Lanesboro B&B project – Nancy (center) cutting the ribbon at the “The Habberstad opening of Lanesboro Local. / Courtesy photo House” – came into her life in the spring of 1996. So did colon cancer, but her plans didn’t change. She managed to oversee the home’s remodeling and served as full-time innkeeper for nearly five years. “That helped me through a difficult stretch,” she says. “It wasn’t easy. But having creative goals kept me looking forward.” A few years later, breast cancer re-appeared. “I had to drive to the Mayo Clinic 38 days in a row for radiation treatments,” she says. “By the end I was exhausted, but I kept going. It helps to keep busy. I get ideas, share them with friends, we spark new ideas. We have fun and that’s just me.” Where exactly do ukuleles fit in? “My family was in Texas one winter and I took ukulele classes,” she says with a laugh. “Not sure why. I found myself in a room filled with dozens of musicians, some good, most beginners like me. The sound produced was wonderful and I loved it! I wanted to try to capture that back home. Since Lanesboro’s anniversary was coming up (2019), the timing seemed perfect. I put out the word and soon people all over town were ordering ukuleles. We had a great time and we’ll be on YouTube forever!” Then came 2020, the year of COVID. Her fifth cancer diagnosis in the midst of pandemic isolation confronted Nancy with probably her toughest challenge yet. “My doctors found what they thought was a recurrence of an earlier cancer,” she said. “The diagnosis wasn’t good. They said it Continued on next page

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