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Family and friends rally round local Nancy Epstein as she goes through cancer treatment

By DIANNE RUSSELL 

A little over a month ago, when local Nancy Epstein was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Laguna native Emily Van Hanswyk knew she had to jump into action. 

Nancy’s daughter Katharine and Emily have been best friends since fourth grade, and Emily wanted to support Nancy – and her family – by showing her how much she is loved and cherished by her friends and the community. 

Emily’s reaction was to create a GoFundMe page for Nancy. “Nancy has lived in TOW for 20+ years and has always been a hands-on parent involved in Laguna Beach Girl Scouts, local theatre, and choir at LBHS. She spends her time reuniting adoptees with their birth parents, successfully doing so many times and bringing joy to many people. As I’m sure you know, medical bills can be debilitating. Her husband has recently recovered from cancer as well.” 

Katharine says, “The response has exceeded all expectations in such a short period of time. It’s awesome.”

The diagnosis was unforeseen and understandably devastating. Nancy had been experiencing stomach problems, but because of the COVID-19 quarantine, her appointments were canceled and rescheduled. 

Family and Nancy

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Submitted photo

Nancy on her 60th birthday last October

“She went into the hospital and they did a CAT scan, and they found she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. We knew she was having pain, but we weren’t expecting that,” says Katharine. “Because of the current restrictions due to COVID-19, during her three hospitalizations, she couldn’t have visitors. It has been really hard. This is how people who don’t want to wear masks can affect those who are in treatment.”

Once Nancy got the diagnosis, Katharine, who lives in Studio City, and her sister Zoë, who lives in Virginia, moved back home to be with her.

Katharine says, “She has had two infusions so far and will have a total of nine – if all goes as planned.” The treatments are three weeks on, one week off.

Family and group

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Submitted photo

Family celebrating Nancy’s 60th birthday: (L-R) David Epstein, Katharine Epstein, Zoë Epstein, Nancy Epstein, and Dan Mon 

One of the most meaningful activities in Nancy’s life is volunteering for an organization called Search Angels, a nonprofit that provides search assistance for those seeking knowledge of their biological roots. 

“It’s extremely important to her. She’s very involved in that work,” says Katharine.

“I am doing everything in my power to share the GoFundMe to raise money for the Epstein family,” says Emily. “Usually I would do a fundraiser in person but unfortunately, that is not an option during a global pandemic. Friends and family can’t visit and assist in person like one usually would in this situation. So raising money to assist with their mounting medical bills seems like the least we can do. The Epstein family urgently needs all of our help.” 

To donate to the Epstein family, click here.