Nancy’s favorite family photo, 1995

4 roses: three have already bloomed, one is still in the process
(photo by Marylin Warner ~ a tribute to Joel, Adam, Seth…and Nancy)













What do you say to a woman who is fighting breast cancer?  What do you say to a woman when her almost 13-year-old son dies in a plane crash? And when her 11-year-old son dies, too…along with her beloved husband?  What can you possibly say?

In this case, the most meaningful answer is what Nancy Saltzman says to us.

If there is one must-read nonfiction book for you to buy for yourself or to give to those you love this season, it’s the honest, unforgettable, touching and inspiring RADICAL SURVIVOR: One Woman’s Path Through Life, Love, And Uncharted Tragedy. In the book’s 242 pages—with 62 ordinary, wonderful pictures—you are welcomed into the extraordinary lives of the Saltzman and Herzog families. From the first chapter, “How To Build A Survivor,” you share in the joys and sorrows…and the triumph of love, hope and determination.

The author, Dr. Nancy Saltzman, is a treasured voice throughout Colorado, an educator, writer and a strong, loving reminder of what it was–and still is–to be Joel’s wife, the mother of Adam and Seth, and a cancer survivor.

November is Thanksgiving, and it is also American Indian Heritage Month. Chief Seattle wrote: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are wound together. All things connect.”

Saltzman’s book gives thanks for years, moments and memories; it also reminds us of the true web connecting us all with what is important, real…and lasting.

Thank you, Nancy, for RADICAL SURVIVOR, and for your kind support of this blog. Last month I read your mother’s letters to you (from your book) to my mother. The web of connection between mother and daughter is strong, as is the strength of the web that even death cannot break.


RADICAL SURVIVOR by Dr. Nancy Saltzman is available on Amazon. For a signed copy and 2-3 day shipping, go to

Celebrating the book: Nancy and friends



Filed under autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, making a difference

26 responses to “HOW TO BUILD A SURVIVOR

  1. juliabarrett

    Wow. I’ve got to get this book. Thanks, Marylin.

  2. What a tragic story, and yes, a true survivor. It puts your own troubles in perspective, that’s for sure.

    • The things we struggle with while raising our children–like teaching them not to use offensive words–all of it has to be done, of course. But then we stop and take a deep breath and remember that there are mothers who would give anything to have their children again, even for just an hour. It makes us pause, grab our kids in strong hugs…and then wash their mouths with Ivory soap… ;=)

  3. dianabletter

    It is hard to understand why a tragedy of this magnitude hits one woman. The only grace is that Nancy is passing on her strength and hope to others. This is an incredible story and I’m so glad you posted it, Marylin, for others to read.

    • I don’t think most of us will ever understand how or why such tragedies hit some, while others seem to face very few hardships. But a wise woman once told me to imagine a huge tree in the center of a field, and all our heartbreaks and pains are being hung from the branches as we all watch. She said that if we could see all the devastation and pain in the world, we would run to the tree and take back our own.
      I think that sometimes those who suffer so much also have–or learn or acquire–a special grace that makes good come from the suffering. I really believe that Nancy is one of those people.

  4. nancysaltzman

    Marylin. Thank you so much for your absolutely beautiful post. I am sitting in quiet awe of your writing and the ability you have to touch deeply in your blog posts. I love the roses. I see living things like roses and think the same thing you did.

    Much, much love, Nancy

    • As you know, Nancy, I am an avid reader, but few books have touched my heart and taught me the quiet, certain lessons revealed throughout RADICAL SURVIVOR. Thank you for your generous heart and willingness to share, and for your beautiful memories that keep your guys–Joel, Adam and Seth–alive in spirit and making a difference in the lives of so many others. Blessings on you, dear Nancy.

  5. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

  6. Molly

    Wonderful, Mom……

    The things that Nancy has been through are a true testament as to how to be a strong woman.

  7. That sounds like a brilliant book and I just love the quote regarding the web of life – what a fantastic way to put it.

  8. Don’t know if I could read this Marylin! Don’t know whether it’s my age or what but coming from a very tough upbringing with a drunken brutish father and then serving in the Army with all that I went through there that toughened me up and even having an 18 year old kid die in my arms I was never very emotional but it seems that every thing is tugging at my heart these days with tears welling up at the slightest provocation

    • Then don’t read it now, Tom, really. There are times when all of us feel we can’t endure one more thing, and we certainly don’t need anyone pushing us. Especially our friends.
      Do something that will make you feel better. Read a book you can dive into, Tom, one that will make you laugh or curse or worry about how the hero will defeat the enemy and find his way out of harm’s way. Be good to yourself, and do what will make your load lighter. You deserve a break, dear Tom, you really do.

  9. I cannot imagine how I would survive such tragedies. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

  10. She is, Elizabeth. And compassionate and grateful for life and laughter and memories. The book is full of wonderful stories.

  11. ‘The web of connection between mother and daughter is strong, as is the strength of the web that even death cannot break.’
    Indeed, that is what I’ve learned too.
    Thank you, Marylin.

  12. jalal michael sabbagh,

    Thank you Marylin for liking my post.Wishing you joyful holidays and a wonderful 2013.

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