A Meeting of the Minds
Novak, still in Colorado, was happy to offer reassurance and guidance, and the pair reached out to one another via email — keeping up correspondence through Grant’s eventual pregnancy and ultimately becoming friends.
Novak coordinates her annual appointment with Friedman each year to correspond with the week of Angels Among Us, a cause near and dear to her heart. She’s attended the event nearly every year since 2002 “when it was still small” and estimates that over the years her team has raised around $30,000 for brain cancer research.
Osteoporosis and a hip impingement possibly caused by her cancer treatment 15 years ago — “a few hiccups along the way” — now keeps her from running the race. However, she still participates and continues to invite those without a team to join Because Gray Matters — making friends along the way.
While Novak chokes up over having lost so many of those friends to brain cancer, her voice brightens when she talks about the intimate moms’ club of brain tumor survivors she stays connected with, including Grant and a mom who has her own Angels team.
“This disease is a hill. You need a community; you can’t do it alone,” Novak said. “There’s a higher purpose in me being here, and I believe it’s to get my story out and help others.”
A stay-at-home mother-of-two, Grant, now 46, has survived seven years since her diagnosis and her scans show no signs of active cancer. She follows a strict anti-cancer diet and takes medications to control tumor-induced attention deficit disorder (ADD) and a seizure disorder that prevents her from driving. She does enjoy the short walk from her house to Whole Foods, which is where she first met Novak in person, soon after Grant had her “post-cancer baby.”
Grant joined Novak’s “Because Gray Matters” Angels Among Us team in 2015, stayed for 2016, and will participate again this year. She’s also organizing the third annual fundraiser for Novak’s team at a Durham restaurant.
“Jodi got me hooked in to Angels Among us,” said Grant, who enjoys yoga and low impact aerobics. “Ever since I moved to Durham and had my miracle child, I feel compelled to do it every year.”