Cancer Affects Entire Family: Child, Teen, Family Programs
At the Cancer Support Community we understand that cancer doesn’t just strike the patient – it affects the entire family. That is why we have programming for every member of the family – even children.
“Kids’ Circle is a lot of fun because we all laugh so much. It is a time that we all get to be ourselves and just be free of anything that is going on.”
– Skhye, Westlake Village Kids’ and Teens’ Circle participant
“My children learned to open up and talk about things with each other, with other participants, and with adults in our family in ways I didn’t learn until much later in life,”
– Mark, a parent of Kids’ and Teens’ Circle member
“Kids’ and Teens’ Circle” Support Groups
Kids’ and Teens’ Circle is a safe, friendly space for people ages 6 – 13 to play, share, and learn from other children who know what it’s like to have a cancer diagnosis in the family. “The kids get to be with a group of peers who understand the experience of dealing with cancer in the family,” says Joyce Boucher, LCSW, MFT, who started the group 20 years ago and facilitates the Westlake Village group.
Although it looks like a group of kids hanging out, playing, and giggling, there is an important aspect of healing and support going on at all times, under the caring supervision of licensed therapists trained to work with people affected by cancer.
Oxnard Kids’ Circle facilitator Diane Martell, LMFT has more than three decades of experience counseling children. She remembers a participant who flourished when he joined Kids’ Circle in Oxnard after a family member was diagnosed with cancer. “He had been acting out and his grades were slipping,” says Diane. “When he started coming to Kids’ Circle, he was able to open up about his fear of his family member dying when their hair began to fall out, and the jealousy he sometimes felt when they got so much attention.” After his experience in Kids’ Circle, this young man was accepted into his school’s gifted program and became a star athlete.
Family Dinner & Support Groups (Bilingual)
This monthly program from October to May is designed for children for cancer and their families. All the participants enjoy dinner together, then break into small support groups with the facilitators (all mental health professionals) for discussions. The groups include a parent group, teen group, young children group, and infant care.
“Dear cancer, It’s Me…” High School Essay Contest
Since 2012, CSCVVSB has been providing an excellent opportunity for the teens to express their cancer experiences in writing. As it is often said, writing is a powerful healing tool. Contestants enter in two categories: Personal category to write about his/her own cancer, and Family category, about their loved ones’ cancer. Every year, more than 40 high school students enter the contest and the winners receive recognition and scholarships at the award ceremony.