For more information on Victory Haven, a non-profit Alternative Cancer Support Group visit www.victoryhaven.org/ or call (912) 572-7286.
The support group meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. New classes will be starting soon at the new Georgia Game Changers.
Naomi Havens has gone through a long journey, with several twists and turns, to get where she is — founder of a nonprofit organization focused on healthy living and, soon, a business that will be an extension of the organization.
She founded Victory Haven in 2010 with the goal of helping people with breast cancer seek alternative treatments rather than chemotherapy or radiation. And at 11 a.m. Monday, the Victory Haven Café, which focuses on organic juice and smoothies, will hold a ribbon-cutting inside the Georgia Game Changers Health and Fitness Complex at 8872 Ford Ave., Suite 207 in Richmond Hill.
Healthy living and avoiding traditional cancer treatments are something Havens knows well. She is a breast-cancer survivor, and she chose an alternative path to battle the disease.
Born in Bitburg, Germany, Havens — then Naomi Schultz — grew up as a military kid. Her father, Jack Schultz, served in the Air Force.
Young Naomi and the rest of the family endured atypical pain.
When her “sister Sharon was born with health issues and died at 22 months, this catapulted me into my interest in medicine,” Havens said.
At 18, she began emergency-medical service training in Denver. After a year there, she met Timothy, and they got married in 1981.
Timothy Havens joined the Army, and Naomi Havens began living the military life again. They moved to Fort Riley, Kansas. From there, they went to Germany for three years.
“This was a dream come true,” she said. “I always wanted to go back and see where my ancestors lived.”
After returning to the States and temporarily leaving the military, Timothy Havens and his wife spent the next five years in Indiana. In 1989, he rejoined the Army and began working as a cannon fire direction specialist at Fort Stewart.
After spending two years in Hinesville, the Havenses moved to Richmond Hill.
In 2000, they got news that altered their lives. With the discovery of a lump in her breast, Naomi Havens began fighting for her life.
She wasn’t a typical patient and poured herself into researching options, refusing to take commonly used methods of treatment. In 2001, she had a lumpectomy and spent the next eight years in recovery without chemotherapy or radiation.
“Learning about nutrition and the role it plays in our health changed our lives,” she said. “We started changing our diet and lifestyle, but still, there were no support groups in the area. I was on my own for a while, and it wasn’t easy. One of the greatest obstacles in the journey was the lack of support from anybody. I was told the hospitals had support groups for cancer patients… Those taking the conventional route were getting support, but it was different for us. I was even offered someone to make meals, but I had such a specific need in the food intake that they just stopped calling and offering.”
Havens acknowledged that, at times, she fell off her strict regimen.
But in 2009, she had another wake-up call. She found another lump in her breast.
In 2010, she began developing more health issues. After undergoing a mastectomy, she dove back into consistently eating healthy.
Havens said she spent “two years in deep depression and was on the verge of taking my own life. God brought me to this point to use me to open this nonprofit organization. During my deep depression, I was reminded you were created for a purpose that only you can do. I can show people God knew I had to be able to relate to people.”
That organization is Victory Haven.
“The sole purpose of this organization is to offer financial assistance and moral support to people pursuing alternative cancer treatments, whether they are just getting started, have already been receiving treatments and need some financial assistance, or they would like to go alternative but finances are an issue,” Havens said.
“We have learned cancer was my biggest fear; when I was diagnosed, it was a death sentence to me. Cancer doesn’t scare me anymore. It is all about how you take care of it and how you deal with it.”