“I’m very excited about living. I wake up so curious and hopeful because every day is an opportunity to experience something new, or to see things from a different perspective.”

Diagnosed in 2017 with an extremely rare type of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma, Denise Burke went through intensive chemotherapy and a below-the-knee amputation during her treatment. After her diagnosis, Denise joined a weekly support group at Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.

“From the first support group meeting that I attended, I have felt a part of a community,” says Denise, a social worker who provides therapy to high school students. “The support at CSCVVSB helped me through each phase of my treatment and helped enormously after my amputation surgery. People in my support group offered me rides to group, meals and endless support.”

An avid hiker, painter, volunteer and the founder of Girl Scout Camp Conejo in Thousand Oaks, Denise also took part in CSCVVSB wellness programs like nutritional counseling, reiki, and yoga. “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you feel scared, overwhelmed and alone. CSCVVSB offers patients a chance to receive support and attend classes, free of charge during a very difficult time in our lives,” says Denise.

Denise encourages anyone in our community affected by cancer to try a CSCVVSB program. “Connecting with CSCVVSB is honestly the easiest decision you’ll have to make after a cancer diagnosis. The groups offer a chance to hear from others who have navigated the ups and downs of the cancer journey and a place to vent and explore the array of feelings that come up along the way.”

One and a half years after her diagnosis, Denise has had time to reflect on the changes cancer brought to her life. “I have grown stronger as a mother, friend, sister, daughter and woman,” says the mom of three teenagers. “I lost my hair but not my sense of humor. I lost my leg and found more stability within myself. I learned how to walk again and I appreciate every step I take.”

Read more of Denise’s reflections at her blog

Want to help people like Denise find hope after a cancer diagnosis?
Make a donation to Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.