The Woods

Winnie the Pooh had The Hundred Acre Wood. For Alice in Wonderland and The Jabberwocky it was the Tulgey Wood. Then, of course, there’s Tiger Woods and his 3-wood (that would allegedly smash the windows of his SUV). The Hippies did Woodstock. There’s West Side Story’s Natalie Wood. There are woulds and would nots (and wood knots). John Wooden was the Wizard of Westwood. Robin Hood had Sherwood. Celebrities have Hollywood. Beaches have driftwood. And if you’re safe from harm, you’re out of the woods. With terminal cancer, we never really leave the woods. Instead, we’ve set up camp and made the woods our home.

Luckily, we’ve come prepared to live the rustic, woodsy lifestyle. Us kids were raised on a rural little farm that sat on the far end of an old dirt road (I guess you could say we lived in the backwoods). We ate what we grew—and what we raised. Our cow, T-Bone, fed the whole family for nearly a year. There were parrots, pigs and peacocks, turkeys and tortoises, hens and horses. I woke up early every morning so I could walk my goat before school. There were compost piles and earthworms, tangerines and avocados. My very favorite toy, a red ATV, was parked in the garage and the keys were in the pocket of my overalls. My pet rat, Templeton, could occasionally be seen wandering around the house of his own free will. And at dinner, we always checked our salads for a leftover caterpillar or snail, only to toss it out and keep eating. So yeah, the Nancarrows can do woods.

So here we are…together in the woods. Sometimes we strut along the outskirts, whistling carefree, arms swinging in the wooded air. Other times we stealthily make our way through the deepest, darkest parts, hoping not to wake menacing wild things lurking behind each wooden trunk.

We may never be out of the woods — but we’re here together and these woods have nothing on us.




Hannah Jane Nancarrow is a San Diego State University alumni, with a B.A. in journalism and new media. After graduating in 2011, Hannah worked in local T.V. news before her dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Hannah managed and contributed to her dad’s incredibly popular blog ( and social media platforms before he passed away, after 11 months of bravely battling and blogging. The diagnosis was a catalyst for her own writing and for following each whim and dream. Today, Hannah writes her own blog and has been a keynote speaker at San Diego Women's Week, Relay for Life, and a top fundraiser for cancer-related causes throughout San Diego. Hannah also has a passion for health and fitness, since losing 75 pounds in 2011. She earned her Spinning® and group fitness instructor certifications, and teaches weekly cycle classes in Encinitas, California. Hannah also earned her real estate license and works in the family business, Nancarrow Realty Group, in North County San Diego.

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49 comments on “The Woods
  1. I have wanted to write about something like this on my webpage and you gave me an idea. Cheers.

  2. Carol Hasson says:

    My goodness Hannah. You are a Really gifted writer !

  3. Kris Quart says:

    Hannah-Banana! I so remember those “days in the backwoods!” I am glad that Gabi got to spend time in an environment that was so awesome and full of fun. I remember how she was so excited when you got a goat, how disturbed (a little) at the pig’s name being “Barbie Q,” and how thrilled she was when your dad gave her the rattle from a snake that had been digested by the worms. (I also recall not knowing who your dad was the first time I met him! LOLOL) I thank G-d every day for blessing our family with your family’s friendship.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That was lovely writing, and a good message-except for the cow part. Also must mention, my first pet rat was also named Templeton! Templeton Jr. to be exact, and I mostly called him TJ. A white rat I found in the back yard, and no one claimed. Turned out to be a great pet. Best wishes to you and your family.

  5. Cat says:

    Tonight I was wondering how Loren was doing and I googled. I found this site and I am so happy I did. I am so glad I read about the woods.

    You are a lucky man Loren. I know that may be an odd observation to some but I bet you agree Mr. Nancarrow. So many never had or never will have your woods. What a gift.

  6. Moira Stanzick says:

    Love and prayers. I am a P.E.O. sister of Ruth’s.

  7. Patti Schwab RN says:

    Excuse me please. I meant my comment for Carolyn Sexton!

  8. Patti Schwab RN says:

    I am not suprised to learn the Nancarrow family can rise to the occaision and continue to find JOY in life. This is something we all saw in Loren through the many years of TV broadcasts. The fact that you have found a way to share this time with others is another Loren characteristic. You are a superb life coach Loren.

  9. Mona Trice says:

    I shared the trip through the “woods” with my late husband in Cardiff 17 years ago. He was also a great patient and I would have loved reading your posts during that time. Your Dad
    was a great favorite of ours back then and his incredible personality is still shining through.
    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  10. Cathie says:

    Carolyn Sexton, Hannah’s message is not of gloom. Simply reflection’s of the life they are living now. Yes, a life taken without warning is tragic but we are not given that choice. The Nancarrow’s are allowing us to go on a journey with them, something the have chosen to do.
    Lovely message Hannah…best to your family.

  11. Cheryl Gallagher says:

    You filled my head with beautiful pictures, and having gone thru a terminal cancer with my brilliant hubby, several years ago, you are SO right about the woods. I had a terrible reluctance to enter the woods, but once inside, they surrounded me, and while I was still somewhat terrified of going deeper, the longer I was there, the more I understood. Funny how I never thought about it before, but your lovely metaphor is so true. Thank you. 🙂

  12. I remember those days when you had a little farm. That’s when your Dad started writing books. I met your little cow. Speaking of writing. You must write a book. Hello to Loren. And yes the Nancarrows can definitely do “Woods.”

    • Thanks Julie. My dad says ‘hello’ and says he received the paperwork from Janet and he will get to it ASAP. Thank you so much for your kind words, they are so very appreciated.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What a great writer you are. Very nice story!

  14. Jody says:

    Beautifully written you really touched my heart, love your dad.

    God Bless your family

  15. Cherie says:

    Outstanding! Yes, a perfect metaphor for life in general. Thanks for sharing your gift of thought and writing…

  16. Judy Ito says:

    What a beautiful gift you have to give. Just made me want to share those moments with you all. Life is such a blessing. How lucky are we to have those precious memories for you to share with us. Thank you so very much!

  17. monica way says:


  18. Marcia Kern says:

    “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. And I have miles to go before I sleep.”

  19. Lovely and special, thanks for sharing. I’ve always loved the woods.

  20. Darlene says:

    How is your dad doing? I have been thinking about him so much lately, hoping for a post from him. Thank you for your post.

  21. Louise Ganus says:

    Thank you, Janie. Your story reminded me so much of my youth back in Michigan. It still gives me and my husband beautiful memories to get us through some of these not so great times. Hang in there Nancarrows. We,re with you.

  22. Darcy says:

    Loved this post! Thank you!!!

    • Trish says:

      Your writing is so soft, yet so real. I love your way of taking us with you, gently through the woods.

      Trish Hausman

  23. Janie Klein says:

    Hannah, you are an angel!!! I love your story. Here is a short sweet story to share with your dad.. I grew up in San Diego starting out almost 70 years ago. My family lived in Linda Vista. Our home was right on the edge of Tecalote Canyon. Our play time was usually down in the canyon collecting pollywogs, sliding down the side of the canyon on pieces of cardboard and best of all packing a brown bag lunch and taking a hike for the day down in the canyons. About two miles down the path in the canyon was a small farm owned by the Ely family. They had chickens, goats, a donkey named Beautiful and lots of vegetables. The purpose of my hike down to the farm was to earn some money selling donkey rides. Freddie Ely and I (both about 9 years old) would take Beautiful and hike up the other side of Tecalote Canyon up to Clairemont Quad. We would sell donkey rides for a Nichol. After we earned some money, we would spend it. What we spend it on, you ask? We would buy Hostess Snowballs and feed them to Beautiful! She loved those cupcakes. It made us laugh to see her eat them. We would then hike back down to the bottom of the canyon to the farm. It was such a fun day. Sometimes I would hike back home and other times Freddie’s dad would drive me back in his flatbed truck. I would ride on the back holding on to the bar behind the cab. I had to hold on tight because the road was dirt and bumpy. This is my short story about a fun time back in the day. 🙂 I hope this makes you smile. It makes me smile every time I think about it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hannah, your words are beautiful…Your words are a gift to your mom and dad.

  25. Carolyn Sexton says:

    Your journey sounds so gloom. Be blessed with the days and months to love and love vs. those snuffed from life without warning. You need to stop the “Poor Me” stuff mr.

    Take Care, Carolyn

    • Candace says:

      @Carolyn Sexton: I hope you don’t post on this blog anymore.

      • Patti Schwab RN says:

        Candace, you should not bother reading the Nancarrow blog if you are not of like mind on the process of living,death and dying. Many of us live life to the fullest even at the end. Leave our conversation to those who gain strength by sharing our JOY even during adversity.

  26. Jeanie Morshead, RN says:

    Hannah, so beautifully written, and I like the humor, too, just like your Dad. Hugs to all!!

  27. Beautiful writing, Hannah. Teh best to you and your family.

    Dan Mc

  28. Dawn says:

    From Yosemite we send our love and prayers.


  29. Dee says:

    It warms my heart to know your whole family is fighting this battle and facing this new chapter in life head on. A positive attitude is THE BEST medicine.

  30. Andy Casillas Hein says:

    Well put, Hannah. You not only SEE the forest for the trees, you know every one of them. A great reminder of living a life fully. Thanks

  31. Joan Hansen says:

    That would be ” you would choose” not your. Somedays you just can’t spell. Hugs to your wonderful family.

  32. Bobbie C. says:

    Thoreau, a wise man with insights on life that some of us could never imagine. Hannah, thank you for opening our eyes to so many thoughts. Big hugs to you, Bobbie

  33. Joan Hansen says:

    It is an interesting journey. Not one your would choose, but one you seem to be making the best of. Everyone who knows you has found joy in reading of your love of life. Thank you.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Once again, another piece that is so well written it hurts. Wish I could write like that.

  35. Rusty Jones says:

    Oh yes, “those” woods. That’s where we all meet. Like Rumi says. All love to you all.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Wow! How lucky you are to have had the experiences that you have so beautifully expressed! We now live in that area you describe from your childhood. Olivenhain right? We have worms and compost and bugs in our salad too! I hope our family loves as deeply as yours and that we too will go in and out of the woods together holding hands and being a family!! Hang in there Nancarrows! You are awesome!!

    • Linda Tegarden says:

      Lovely.The woods might just be the perfect metaphor…I cannot think of any life situation where it does not apply. Especially there is something strong and courageous about a woods. A forest is a different thing. Children can play in the woods, marvel, discover and grow. Not in a forest though. It is dark and deep.

  37. Linda Gloria says:

    Very well said. What a great family. I wish all of you love,luck & happiness

  38. Karen P says:

    Great way to think of it. Take care and glad you are all together. Godspeed.

  39. linea says:

    As always beautifully written…with poignant overtones……your way with words brings vivid images to my mind…pulling caterpillars off your lettuce…<3

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