Serving about 3,000 individuals affected by cancer each year, the Cancer Support Community thrives on the belief that no one has to face cancer alone.
“There is no other organization like us in this area,” says Kayo Matsumoto, program director of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.
Celebrating more than two decades of providing hope to people fighting cancer, Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara—formerly known as The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura—is an independently funded nonprofit organization that’s an affiliate of the Cancer Support Community.
The organization offers free programs throughout the San Fernando Valley, as well as Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in both English and Spanish.
Their overall mission is to ensure that adults, children and teens impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and supported by the community.
“Studies have shown that cancer patients and their family members tend to feel loss of control and alone,” Matsumoto says. “We play a pivotal role in improving their quality of life and help them regain control and feel less alone.”
A full spectrum of free classes includes newly diagnosed, active treatment and survivor and bereavement classes, as well as a kids and teen support circle.
“We offer more support groups and workshops than any other cancer organization,” Matsumoto notes. “We have 90 educational workshops a year and more than 24 different types of support groups for people with cancers, caregivers and friends, and children.”
“All the programs are free of charge because the last thing people affected by cancer want to see is another bill,” Matsumoto says.
Paint The Town Pink
These programs would not be possible without support from the community. As such, the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara will present its next fundraiser, Paint The Town Pink, October 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Oaks Shopping Center.
Hosted by The Oaks and Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Paint The Town Pink kickstarts Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a goal to raise $20,000 for the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.
“Please join us for a fun evening out and help support breast cancer awareness and education,” says Donna Baharouzi, Development Director at the Cancer Support Community. “Proceeds from this event will benefit Cancer Support Community VVSB programs including our four breast cancer groups.”
Launched by Locals
The nonprofit endeavor in Ventura County was launched in 1991 when local nurses Marty Nason and Beth Kin were inspired by Harold H. Benjamin, Ph.D., and his wife, Harriet, who founded the Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center in 1982 in Santa Monica. The Benjamin Center offers 100% free emotional and psychological support and healthy lifestyle services for those affected by cancer.
“Both having been affected by cancer, Mary and Beth felt that Conejo Valley and surrounding areas needed a place that would offer education and hope,” Matsumoto explains. With that goal in mind, the two women opened the doors for the Cancer Support Community to serve cancer patients and their families in Ventura County and the San Fernando Valley. Over the years, the nonprofit has earned a reputation as a unique organization that provides psychological and social support for people with cancer and their families.
“As much as we don’t want to be, the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara is considered to be the best-kept secret in our community,” Baharouzi says.
The organization helps people with cancer that want to improve the quality of their lives and be active partners along with their physicians and healthcare teams. Their friends, support-givers, and loved ones also participate in programs that are specially designed for them.
Additionally, people who have had cancer and have completed medical treatments also attend to maintain their health while focusing on survivorship issues. No physician’s referral is needed to participate in any program offered by the Cancer Support Community.
“We offer different types of support groups for different types of cancer—we also offer educational workshops and mind-body healthy lifestyle classes, such as yoga, meditation, reiki, Zumba, knitting, painting and much more,” Matsumoto says. “The best part—all of our programs are free of charge allowing those we serve to feel at ease.”
For more information, including orientation meeting dates and locations, visit CancerSupportVVSB.org or call 805.379.4777. No appointments are necessary and family and friends are welcome.