Since 1989, the Cancer Support Community Valley Ventura Santa Barbara, formerly known as The Wellness Community, has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people who are impacted by cancer in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, as well as the west San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County. All our programs have been provided AT NO COST to our participants.
To ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.
The Cancer Support Community, formerly known as the Wellness Community, began as a small, grassroots organization, by Dr. Harold Benjamin and Harriet Benjamin In Santa Monica. Harriet, a cancer survivor herself, sought to create an organization that would provide social and emotional support to not only cancer patients, but also to their families, friends, and caregivers. They developed the “Patient Empowerment Model,” and with that model, The Benjamins encouraged people with cancer and their families to partner with their physicians, to take control of their healthcare, and to participate fully and proactively in their quests to better quality of lives.
Gilda Radner and Harold Benjamin
One of the biggest advocates of TWC was the late comedian and “SNL” cast member, Gilda Radner. When diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986, Radner sought support from TWC. She called for similar support-focused organizations to be available not only on the West coast, but everywhere. Unfortunately, in 1989, Gilda passed away.
In honor of Gilda’s legacy, her husband Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull, along with friends and family, founded Gilda’s Club in 1991. The first local Affiliate organization, Gilda’s Club New York City (GCNYC), opened its iconic Red Door in 1995.
Cancer Support Community
In 2007, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, a groundbreaking report on the importance of addressing the social and emotional needs of individuals facing cancer, rather than just their physical needs—an idea The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide had both been implementing for many years. This eventually sparked merger discussions between the two organizations, which aimed to increase operating efficiency and reduce overall costs, in order to provide greater resources and influence.
In 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide merged, becoming a united organization under the name Cancer Support Community. As a result of this union, Cancer Support Community is now the largest provider of cancer support worldwide, with 50+ affiliates across the country – including Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara – and also in Canada, Israel and Japan. CSC has dramatically increased its capacity to reach even more people impacted by cancer.
The organization has developed the Cancer Support Helpline, the Cancer Experience Registry and greatly expanded the Frankly Speaking About Cancer educational materials. CSC also established the Research & Training Institute and the Cancer Policy Institute, and piloted an inaugural hospital-integrated model. Through all of these developments, CSC has worked to further expand its services so that “no one faces cancer alone.”
Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara
Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB) was the fourth CSC affiliate established in 1989, by two advanced nurses, specialized in psychiatry, Marty Nason and Beth Kin.
As an independently governed and funded affiliate of Cancer Support Community, CSCVVSB has been dedicated for over 30 years to helping people impacted by cancer in the community enhance their health and well-being through a variety of evidence-based programs AT NO COST to them.
CSCVVSB’s programs include professionally led support groups, healthy lifestyle classes, educational workshops, social events, and provisions of community resources. CSCVVSB also provides children, teens, family programs, and Spanish language programs and services, such as support groups and individual counseling.
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, CSCVVSB promptly and successfully transformed its programs into virtual format. This move was highly welcomed and appreciated by people impacted by cancer, due to their increased sense of isolation and higher levels of anxiety about their health and wellness. Currently CSCVVSB is open “virtually,” and continues to provide all programs online.
With their strong motivation and determination to support people impacted by cancer, our founders, Marty and Beth continue to be actively involved in CSCVVSB today, as a support group facilitator and a Board of Director member, respectively.