Yoga Instructor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Hospital Administrator, Academic Researcher, Volunteer, Wife, Mother…Survivor. Brenda Ohta has held many “titles” in her life, but it is safe to say that she doesn’t let any one person or thing define her, or shake her faith in the power of healing and positivity…not a hurricane, not a wild fire, and certainly not a cancer diagnosis.
Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, once said, “I feel the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” This sentiment perfectly describes super volunteers, Norm MacDonald and Nancy Solomon, who are constantly showing us how much MORE they have to give.
You will never walk again. Those were the words Melinda heard from her doctor after waking up from a coma, paralyzed from the neck down by metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her brain and bones.
Being diagnosed at age 21 with aggressive metastatic breast cancer sent Melinda into the fight of her life, but it wasn’t the only challenge she had faced, even at such a young age.
In celebration of National Volunteer Month, we are pleased to feature longtime supporter Thelma Starr.
Thelma has been an essential part of our volunteer team for more than two decades – almost as long as CSCVVSB has been open!
Anastasia is proof that you’re never too young to make a difference. The Simi Valley second grader wanted to help kids who had a mom or dad with cancer, so she had a bake sale featuring her own homemade cookies.
“We made Christmas sugar cookies,” says Anastasia, age seven. “At first I put up a booth in front of my house, but nobody came, so then I went around my neighborhood with my mom and sold the cookies for twenty-five cents each.”
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.
Harriet Wasserman is a 40-year veteran in the entertainment industry and a ten-year member of the Board of Directors of Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara. Despite being a sought-after music agent, her proudest achievement is her family. She and her husband Ted have been married for 60 years and have two children and six grandchildren.
It was her daughter Nancy’s 2005 breast cancer diagnosis that brought Harriet to CSCVVSB. After learning about the support services available there, Harriet encouraged Nancy to try it out, even offering to go with her if it would help. Harriet joined a Caregiver Support Group, and Nancy joined a Patient Support Group.
“That group ended up being the one thing she looked forward to the most,” says Harriet. “She never missed a Wednesday.” In the final week of Nancy’s battle against cancer, when she could no longer travel, her entire group came to her home for their Wednesday meeting.
Part of the annual Paint the Town Pink fundraiser to benefit CSCVVSB, this exhibit gave local breast cancer survivors a spotlight to tell our community about their experience and create a uniquely decorated bra in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
If you happened to attend the Holiday Homes Tour back when it started in the early 1990s, you may have seen two young sisters handing out shoe covers or volunteering as docents. As the tour gained momentum and popularity over the next quarter century, those teens grew up along with it, volunteering their time each year in service of people affected by cancer in our community.
This year is no different for Becky and Molly Buck. Both sisters are serving on the Holiday Homes Tour committee, Becky as Marketing Chair and Molly as Raffle and Opportunity Coordinator.
“When we first started getting together all we did was cry. Now when we get together we can laugh.” That’s Eva Gordon talking about her fellow bereavement group members at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB). The group, facilitated by Anne Gessert, MS, LMFT for the past 23 years, is offered free of charge to people in our community who have lost a loved one to cancer.
Eva and her friends Eileen Beck, Marilyn Lippel and Maria Potje were kind enough to share the story of the lasting bonds they found in the group.
My name is Genevieve. I am eight years old, and I am going into fourth grade. I live in California. I love goats, reading, and I love to play with my dog Leia. Everything about my life is completely normal, except for one thing.
My Dad has cancer. My Dad has had cancer since before I was born. He was diagnosed with a rare type called Thymic Cancer, just three weeks after my big brother, Nathan, was born. He beat it, but before I was even one year old, his cancer came back. At that point, the doctors knew that it would never totally go away because it has a high chance of reoccurrence. Read more…
When Amina Pasha lost her uncle to thyroid cancer, it deeply affected her and her family. The Westlake High rising Junior decided to channel her feelings into a project to help the Kids Circle group at CSCVVSB, and she ended up making a difference in a very unique way! Read more…