About Us

Our Mission

Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara’s mission is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.

Providing support and hope for over 30 years in the West San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County.

Since 1991, Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, (CSCVVSB) has stood alongside those in our community fighting cancer as well as their families and caregivers. We are dedicated to helping local residents with cancer and their caregiving loved ones, through an established strategy of providing cancer support, education, and hope. Annually we help more than 2,000 adults, children, and teens who are impacted by cancer enabling them to regain control, reduce isolation and restore hope, regardless of the state of their cancer diagnosis.

Our NO COST professionally led cancer support groups, educational workshops, individual cancer counseling sessions, and healthy lifestyle classes are offered in both English and Spanish to adults, teens, children and families throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and West San Fernando Valley.

What makes our cancer support nonprofit different from others?

We are an independently governed and funded non-profit and affiliate of the Cancer Support Community based in Washington D.C.

As the largest professionally led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, the Cancer Support Community VVSB is supported by a global network of 175 Cancer Support Community locations, hospital, and clinic partnerships delivering more than $50 million in free cancer support and navigational services and help for cancer patients and their families.

Importantly, our national support for cancer patients and those impacted by cancer includes cutting-edge cancer research by the National Research and Training Institute (RTI) and Cancer Policy Institute (CPI). RTI supports local affiliates, such as Cancer Support Community VVSB, with psycho-social clinical level cancer research that provides the highest quality cancer counseling and cancer support group services. CPI advocates for policies in support of individuals whose lives have been disrupted by cancer.

“It is such a comfort to be with others who truly understand my experience in a way that my loving family and friends cannot. I learn so much from my fellow group members, of both a practical and profound nature. I give and receive support.”

– Participant, the Cancer Support Community

Our Beliefs

  • No one can, or should, face cancer alone. 
  • Many, many people recover from cancer.
  • While we have witnessed many significant advances in treating the devastation of cancer, nothing takes the place of the power, inspiration, companionship, and connection that comes from community. 
  • Cancer patients can participate in their recovery along with their healthcare team.
  • Family members and friends of an individual with cancer, including children, can also benefit from information and support.
  • All people are worthy of social and emotional cancer support – We strive to be an organization that not only upholds, but boldly proclaims, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
  • There is hope.

“Cancer patients who participate in their fight for recovery, along with their healthcare team, will improve the quality of their lives and may enhance the possibility of their recovery”

– Harold H. Benjamin, Ph.D., founder of the Cancer Support Community

Our History

Wellness 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, California. Dr. Benjamin and 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 quest to live a better quality of life.

Gilda Radner and Harold Benjamin

One of the biggest advocates of The Wellness Community was the late comedian and “Saturday Night Live” cast member, Gilda Radner. When diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986, Radner sought support from The Wellness Community. She called for similar support-focused organizations to be available not only on the West coast, but everywhere. Unfortunately, in 1989, Gilda Radner 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, 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. Cancer Support Community has dramatically increased its capacity to reach even more people impacted by cancer.

Since its launch, the organization has developed several programs including:

  • Cancer Support Helpline,
  • The Cancer Experience Registry, and
  • Greatly expanded “Frankly Speaking About Cancer” educational materials.

Cancer Support Community also established the Research & Training Institute (RTI) and the Cancer Policy Institute (CPI) and piloted an inaugural hospital-integrated model. Through all of these developments, Cancer Support Community 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 (Cancer Support Community VVSB) was established in 1991 by two advanced nurses specializing in psychiatry and oncology, Marty Nason and Beth Kin. It was the fourth Cancer Support Community Affiliate to be established.

As an independently governed and funded affiliate of Cancer Support Community, Cancer Support Community VVSB has been dedicated for over 30 years to supporting our local community members impacted by cancer to enhance their health and well-being through a variety of evidence-based programs. There is NEVER A COST to our participants  to receive cancer support through our organization.

With their strong motivation and determination to support those in our community impacted by cancer, our founders, Marty and Beth continue to be actively involved in Cancer Support Community VVSB today – Marty continues as a cancer support group facilitator and Beth is member of our Board of Directors.


In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, Cancer Support Community VVSB promptly and successfully transformed its programs into an all-virtual format. This move was highly welcomed and appreciated by our participants, due to their increased sense of isolation and higher levels of anxiety about their health and wellness. Currently Cancer Support Community VVSB is providing programs online, in-person and hybrid to accommodate the needs of all participants.