We have had a great start to the new year! The second quarter brings us our 9th annual “Dear Cancer, It’s Me” awards ceremony this month and Hope Walk Week in May. June will be busy with our National Cancer Survivors Day event on June 6th and our virtual 30th Anniversary celebration on June 17th! More details about these events can be found on our website, or make sure you’re following us on social media for updates (all links can be found at the bottom of this email).
 
Though we are all still working from home and the office is closed, the virtual program offerings have been well-attended and we continue to welcome new participants to our support groups. Please take a look at our online calendars and you’ll notice some additional mind/body classes and social events added back to the schedule. Participants have told us that due to the pandemic, they really miss social interaction and our community, so please join us!
 
We are thankful to be able to continue to offer all support at no cost to participants, thanks to our generous supporters. In planning for the future and our long-term financial stability, a robust Planned Giving Program is important. This type of giving does not affect a donor’s immediate income, but can include gifts of life insurance, real estate, equity/stock, personal property, or cash. If you’d like to discuss options for a planned gift, please reach out to me and we’ll set up some time.
 
Thank you for your continued support of CSCVVSB and our work. Enjoy this quarterly newsletter and we hope you find it informative!
 
In good health,
Monica E. Merryman
Executive Director
Cancer Support Community VVSB
MEET SUPPORT GROUP FACILITATOR: Anne Gessert, MS, LMFT
I have been a facilitator at CSC for 26 years. It is so much more than a job or career for me. I am a small part of a community of clinical and administrative staff, Board members, donors, and volunteers all working together so that no one has to face cancer alone, and so that when those with cancer or their loved ones join a support group they find the highest quality of emotional support. It is an incredible honor to be a part of all of this for so many years.

Support groups are wonderful, but it is not always easy to walk into a room of strangers and to say out loud “I have cancer” or “My loved one has cancer.” Many people are scared to take that first step. One of my fondest memories occurred when I was facilitating a drop-in family group. Week after week a man would drop off his wife at her support group for people with cancer and he would walk around the building but never come into the family support group room. Until one night he did. He sat on the arm of a sofa right inside the door and said “I’m not a group person and I’m only going to stay a few minutes.” Of course, he ended up staying that evening and then attended every week while his wife was in treatment.

He stayed, of course, because he found, as so many others have found over the years, that all of the emotions involving cancer – fear, anger, sadness, hope, gratitude, and resilience – are universal. Sharing and expressing those feelings with others who understand, helps to ease the sense of isolation a diagnosis of cancer can bring.

Our clinical staff of licensed professionals are trained in helping group members share as much or as little as they are comfortable with, and to facilitate the connection between members. Each of them is skilled and dedicated and I am so proud to be one of them.
MEET COORDINATOR OF PSYCHOSOCIAL SERVICES AT ST. JOHN'S CANCER CENTER: Diane Martell, MA, LMFT
I have been happy to work with Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara for about 12 years. I feel that I have come full-circle—back to serving patients. I started my licensed counseling over 40 years ago at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. So, starting at CSCVVSB and being the Coordinator of Psychosocial Services at St John’s Cancer Center is wonderful!

My personal cancer journey began when I moved back to the area to assist my father when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Unfortunately, my father passed away, and again I was touched by cancer when my younger sister was diagnosed with and died of lymphoma. I credit my parents for the gift of Español, the love for family, and the welcoming embrace of all. Therefore, it is an honor to be entrusted by these men, women, and children as they find their way through their cancer journeys. Our CSCVVSB mission is to work together with all the staff and resources so that no one faces their cancer journey alone. My mantra is: everybody is different and every body is different, which I explain as each person’s cancer journey is unique and every bit as important as the other. I sometimes joke, in order to relax and encourage new participants by saying, “This is Las Vegas…whatever happens here—stays here.”

One of my fondest and most poignant memories is when I was called by an elementary school counselor to see an 8-yr. old boy who was acting out in his classroom—he threw an eraser at his teacher, which was out of character for him. His little sister was recently diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and the family dynamics had changed drastically. After I saw him for a few sessions; he opened up about that day, when he “went ballistic in class.” He told me when his sister was born, he was given a shirt that said BIG BROTHER, and was told that from then on he was to protect his little sister. The day before the incident, the two of them were horsing around when he noticed that her hair had stayed on his shirt. He said he felt like he was not “looking after his sister” and that made him mad. He stayed in counseling and helped me start our Kids and Teens Circle group - a support group for children affected by cancer.

If anyone is hesitant to join a group, I remind them that “Everybody is different and every body is different.” At Cancer Support Community all of our licensed professionals are trained in helping facilitate when you are ready and what you are comfortable sharing. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of an international organization that makes a difference.
2021 HOPE WALK WEEK
The 3rd annual Hope Walk event will be a weeklong virtual event to be held Sunday, May 16, and culminating on Sunday, May 23, 2021.
 
CSCVVSB's Hope Walk Week is a family-friendly, community event that promotes awareness and education about cancer while raising critical funds in support of CSCVVSB's mission.
 
The hosted virtual event is structured so that anyone can participate in the comfort of their own home, backyard, or neighborhood while ensuring that they continue to practice social distancing. Participants will be encouraged to share their participation on social media using the hashtag #HopeWalkWeek2021, thus still coming together as a community to support people facing cancer. Community is Stronger than Cancer!
 
Registration fee is $30 and includes a swag bag and a limited edition t-shirt which participants can wear when completing their walks.  Please click here to register or for more information. 
CSCVVSB'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY
As Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara celebrates its 30th year in the community, we are collecting testimonials from our current and previous participants, healthcare partners, volunteers, and donors to share with our community.
 
We want to know what “Community” means to you. A selected number of responses will be shared on social media prior to our anniversary date. Please click here to participate.
 
Also, please join us for a special virtual toast on our anniversary date, June 17th. More details including the link to join will be provided closer to the event date.
 
We thank you in advance for participating!  
NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY
On SundayJune 6, 2021, people around the world will unite to recognize cancer survivors, raise awareness of the ongoing challenges cancer survivors face, and – most importantly – celebrate life.

CSCVVSB will host a virtual event, to celebrate cancer survivorship together. All cancer survivors and their families and friends are welcome. More information to come soon! Please keep an eye on our program calendars and social media postings. 
SAVE THE DATES: 2021
"Dear Cancer, It’s Me..." Awards Ceremony: Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hope Walk Week: Sunday, May 16 to May 23, 2021

Survivors Day Celebration: Sunday, June 6, 2021

CSCVVSB's 30th Anniversary: Thursday, June 17, 2021

Celebration of Hope: Thursday, September 23, 2021
SPECIAL EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS
Cancer and the Law: Five Legal Tips (in Spanish)
El Cáncer y la ley: Cinco Consejos Legales
with Dayana Pelayo, Esq.
Wednesday, April 21st
Miércoles, Abril 21
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Register online or call 805-379-4777
Navigate Through Medicare and Medi-Cal
with Stephanie Fajuri Denning, Esq.
Thursday, April 29th
12:00 - 1:00 pm
Register online or call 805-379-4777