by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Breathing Free

Long-time local Marlene Nadler-Moodie’s life story was on the traditional trajectory – career, husband, kids. Originally from New York, Marlene worked as a psychiatric nurse in Manhattan where she met her husband in 1978. The couple married in 1981 and moved cross country two years later, first to La Costa and then shortly after to Carmel Valley.

faces1The friendliness of the people and the small town feel, Marlene acknowledged, is what she loves most about 92130. As the first family in their neighborhood, Marlene recalled, “There was no landscaping at that time. Our sons rode their little tricycles across all the backyards between homes and construction.” Their sons, alumni of Torrey Pines High School, are successful adults today. Justin is an art teacher in Menlo Park, having just returned from three years of teaching in Mexico City. Brett recently passed the California Law Bar and is an attorney in Los Angeles.

Marlene’s professional path was one she determined long ago. “I wanted to be a nurse, having been inspired by a book I read in third grade, and I never deviated from that goal,” she shared. “I was drawn to psychiatry during my clinical rotation as a student. After witnessing some less than humane practices, I wanted to make a change.” Today she is a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric nursing. Her husband has been a psychiatrist at Kaiser for over 30 years.

But Marlene’s life was turned upside down in 2012 when she was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer. “I felt well and healthy, exercising daily, traveling, all things were as usual until a small, dry cough led me to see my physician,” Marlene explained. “We were completely blindsided.” She moved quickly into chemotherapy and radiation. “During this time I came to learn about the stigma against lung cancer and could make the comparison to the stigma against mental illness – the field I work in,” Marlene acknowledged.

The experience led Marlene to the national nonprofit organization called Free to Breathe. The group is committed to make surviving lung cancer the expectation rather than the exception. Every August, Marlene participates in the San Diego Free to Breathe 5K Run/Walk to help raise money and awareness for the cause.

As for Marlene’s future goals, she has a short but important list: “Live life to the fullest, continue to travel, enjoy my family and friends, and continue to be a productive professional.”


Name: Marlene Nadler-Moodie
Profession: Advanced Practice Nurse in Psychiatry
Community: Carmel Valley since 1990
Hobbies: Travel, cooking, exercise, time with family and friends
Favorite Local Spots: Local restaurants, Bay Club Carmel Valley, the drive along the 101

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