We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Ferro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, how do you think about risk?
At 56 years old when alot of people are thinking of retirement and what that might look like, I decided to found a non profit after my oldest son was diagnosed with cancer. I have always been a go for it kind of person. As far as a career early on I felt could do what ever I set out to do. There is an exception to that in my career though. At the age of 21 I left college as a senior. I had a scare with cancer and thought what am I doing? I don’t like school so time to look for something else. Turns out there was no cancer, but it pushed me harder to take chances. I got a job as a inside sales person in a very male dominated field. There were 45 outside sales people at this company and only 3 of those were women. I soon became the 4th. I did well calling on laboratories in industrial businesses, again very male dominated. Although when they asked me to apply for a management position at the age of 24, I got scared and declined the offer to even interview. That was not what I would have done today and never again did I back down from an opportunity. That experience probably led me to found a non profit.
I founded Epic Experience in 2012 and have always believed we will be able to do what we set out to to, which is empower adult cancer thrivers and survivors to live beyond cancer. At times some of our board members would say we have to cut back if we don’t find the money, at which I would reply we WILL find the means to do what we set out to do.
Life comes with risks every day. Someone diagnosed with cancer does not think it is going to happen to them, but when it does there are so many questions. What is the risk to my fertility? What is the risk to telling my employer I have cancer? What will my partner think when I tell them? What if I go out in public with a bald head because I have lost my hair? What if I look good on the outside and still have cancer that is life threatening and how will I deal with the people that say “you look find” The risk with cancer for the most part comes after the diagnosis which is why I founded Epic Experience.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I founded a non profit in 2012 after my oldest son Michael was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2007. It is a terrible feeling to feel so helpless and not be able to fix something for one of my children. My career has taken many paths. I started in inside sales, promoted to outside sales. Left that job to join a industry that was not for me at all!! Got to know when it is not a fit. Then I got married had a job and got pregnant. For health reasons I could not work while I was pregnant. I worked off and on while raising my kids in jobs that allowed me to be with them. I sold encylopedias, tupperware, clothes and watched others kids. . When my husband was laid off I got a job at Nordstrom and loved it, but missed being with my kids. I know I was lucky to be home with my kids, but we made that choice as day care with family was not an option and the cost of day care was too high. Later I would start a business selling custom bottled water to businesses and special events. I loved having the freedom to set my own path. It wasn’t easy and came with risks, but once again I just said I can do it.
Besides my family, founding Epic Experience has been my greatest achievement in my life. We are not a big non profit but I believe if we can support and encourage 1 cancer patient to know there is life beyond cancer, I have succeeded. I am proud to say Epic Experience has touched many lives. I am also proud of my family for the time and energy they have given to support adult cancer thrivers. My middle child came to me 7 years ago and said he wanted to work with Epic Experience. Colin Ferro does an incredible job leading our programs. This year my husband joined the team, using his years of experience in the corporate world helping us reach out to businesses to share our mission.
My story is I am a mom first and always and through my life experiences I hope I offer hope to others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First and foremost I would take my best friend to the mountains. The mountains are so inspiring and remind me that I am a small part of the world. I love taking people to Rocky Mountain National Park for all of its beauty and the elk of course. If there is a baseball game or other sporting event depending on the season that would be a good place to enjoy some time together. I would take her on a one day adventure to Glenwood Springs to go down the river rafting with an Epic Experience partner, Whitewater Rafting LLC for a truly Colorado experience. Of course I would have to take them to the barn where I have a horse and just let them share in the magic of what horses have to offer..
No trip to the Denver area is complete without a trip to Red Rocks and its beauty. I love eating at local restaurants in Arvada or downtown Denver.
What I love most is spending time with friends and family in our back yard and just sharing time together.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
WOW, my success is in part to so many that have come into my life. The #`person is my husband Mark. When I said I was going to start a non profit he backed me 100%. We have been married for 38 years and Mark has supported me in all of my endeavors which gives me the encouragement to just do it. Growing up I was a very shy and not very confident person. When I was in grade school they divided classes into those that did well and caught on quickly and the slow class. I was put in the slow class and never very confident in my ability in school until my senior year in high school. Mr Ladendorff taught Government and was also the Year Book Advisor. I decided to join the Year Book Team, why not! I remember one day Mr Ladendorff telling me that I was smart and with a little effort I could do well in school. This was my senior year but here was a teacher encouraging me. At my high school there was a state wide government test series of 5. You needed to pass the tests to graduate. Well not only did I pass, I was the highest score on 3 out of 5 and in the top 10 in the other 2 tests…. out of over 500 seniors.
You never know what kind of impact you can make on someones life…. Mr Ladendorff changed my life and confidence.