Child, Teen, and Family Programs

A Family Approach

At the Cancer Support Community, we understand that cancer doesn’t just impact the patient – it affects the entire family. Our cancer support programming is for the whole family, from children and teens with cancer (also known as, AYA cancer – Adolescent and Young Adult cancer), to children who have a parent or sibling with cancer. We offer a safe space to connect families, teens and children and teach coping skills while having fun during social events, Cancer Support Groups, Individual Cancer Counseling, Educational Workshops, and Healthy Lifestyle Classes.

“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 youth ages 6 – 13 to discuss cancer. Under the supervision of licensed therapists trained in working with people affected by cancer, children gather to play and learn from each other, finding commonality in their shared cancer diagnosis experience.

“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 

Oxnard Kids’ Circle facilitator Diane Martell, LMFT has more than three decades of experience providing cancer counseling for children. She remembers a participant who flourished 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 & Cancer Support Groups (Bilingual) 

This monthly program runs for eight months from October through May and is designed for children with cancer and their families. All participants dine together then break into small parent- teen-, and children-support groups with trained mental health professional facilitators. 

“Dear cancer, It’s Me…” High School Essay Contest 

For a decade, Cancer Support Community for the Valley, Ventura County, and Santa Barbara County has hosted an essay contest for teens to express their cancer experiences, using writing as a powerful healing tool. Each year in April, 40+ high school students enter the contest and winners earn scholarships and are recognized at the annual awards ceremony each Spring. Contestants enter in two categories:

  • Personal Journey – writing about their personal experience as a cancer patient/cancer survivor.
  • Family Journey – writing about their loved ones’ cancer diagnosis and how it impacted them and their family.

Please follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and be watchful for announcements when the essay contest opens.

“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 still facilitates the Westlake Village group today.”