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Holiday Boutique Vendor Preview 2015

Great holiday shopping…for a cause that gives all year.

BoutiqueLogo2015We’re excited to announce the participants in our Annual Holiday Boutique, Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, 10am to 5pm at the Oak Park Community Center, 1000 Kanan Road, Oak Park CA.

Our Holiday Boutique features dozens of unique holiday gifts, decor, and crafted items. There’s ample parking and no entrance fee.

A portion of all sales at the Holiday Boutique directly fund our programs. The Cancer Support Community ensures that adults and children impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and supported by community. All our services are free – your support equals direct dollars in action and we thank you.

Here is a list of this year’s fantastic vendors:

Robin’s Nest: Handmade jewelry and art pieces and gift pieces

Stoney J’s : Clothing, hats, scarves, wallets, jewelry, hair, accessories, boot cuffs/socks, etc.

Country Joy: salt & pepper shakers, wind chimes, purse magnets

PoshSox: Decorated headbands, crystal clips, claws, handmade fascinators.

Sawitz Fine Artz: Jewelry

Elegant Accents-Janee Designs: Handcrafted jewelry in pearls, crystal, semi-precious stones, etc

Pearls and Panache: Pearls, fashion jewelry, silk scarves, small purses

Armour in Truth: Faith based jewelry and gifts for men and women. All items from luggage accessories, tapes, aprons and pillow covers with scriptures or symbols of faith.

Lemon Tree Gifts: Christmas décor

Gerie’s Fashion Closet: Exclusive please, Testemony of LA, SPTSW, Serreales SPTSW, Bella sweaters. Sisters Sweater.

Pure Necessities: Natural skincare, cremes, shea butter, handmade soap, soy candles, gift sets

Knotty Knitters of Cancer Support Community: Knitted scarves

Frame A Memory: 9×11 Unique magnetic Frames

Devin Krista Jewelry: Custom handmade fine Jewelry

DBD Designs: Fleece pants, flip flop slippers, purses, scarves, packit freezable bags.

Accessories 4 Divas: Exquisite handmade jewelry from Europe

Jackeez & Nicolz: Women’s clothing, sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, jackets, cardigans, ponchos, capes, dresses, boots

Cocoa Luxe Chocolatier: Gourmet chocolates: toffee, caramels, barks, decorated cookies

Cotton Baby: Womens apparel and accessories

Gold N’ I Jewelers

N. Hay Scarves: Cashmere scarves

Origami Owl: Lockets with hand-painted charms, chains, bracelets and earrings

Painted Silks: Hand-painted silk, shawls and scarf rings, jewelry and accessories

Gourmet Blends: Balsamic vinegar and olive oil

LunaLia Design: Natural stone jewelry

Remember Me: Womens hats

Vivi Jewelry: Fine fashion jewelry, scarves

Kneady: Baked goods

Ventura County Star


Survivor Spotlight: Darlene Graves, M.A., EdD

“We learn we can live one day at a time, for that is all any of us is given.”

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we invited Cancer Support Community member Darlene Graves, M.A., EdD to share her story – how she dealt with a cancer diagnosis after moving to a new state away from friends and family, how she armed herself with knowledge to find the treatment plan right for her, and how she found tools and camaraderie to deal with the emotional effects of cancer at the Cancer Support Community.

My husband, Michael, and I are newcomers to Oxnard River Ridge, having moved to the central coast from Virginia just three years ago. Our story includes a career teaching together in five different college communication departments over the past 40 years, from Southern California, to Oregon, to Virginia and back to California. I was teaching and directing college theatre productions at George Fox University when we moved from Newberg, Oregon to Virginia to teach in graduate programs.

We were adjusting quite well to a new climate, culture, and community when I was stunned by the “suspicious findings” report from my annual mammogram. Those daunting words echoed in my mind as I waited for results from my first lumpectomy. Suddenly being away from family and friends back in Oregon plunged me into dark loneliness. Michael and I clung to each other more tightly in our newly-perceived “foreign” land, depending on faith to carry us through unchartered waters. We breathed more easily when we found out the lump was benign, but having been healthy all my life, I felt physically vulnerable for the first time. I had three more lumpectomies in less than two decades, eventually joking about my “Frankenstein Breasts” until in 2006 the fourth one revealed a malignancy deep in the duct.

Although the tumor was contained and the surgeon confident he had gotten it all, he recommended a mastectomy plus their traditional seven weeks of radiation, as he said: “for peace of mind.” I had been doing research and teaching on creative problem solving, so my own proclivity to “think outside the box” came into focus. We did the best thing we knew to do: we waited and prayed for wisdom then we took an active role in looking for alternatives to my situation. We did intensive research, checked medical websites, read articles and armed ourselves with information we had not been initially given. We discovered that brachytherapy, a one-week more-focused radiology especially suited for ductal carcinoma in situ, was available in a leading hospital in a neighboring city, but had not been offered to us in our town because they did not have the machinery. I was thankful that Michael and I kept our heads and took responsibility to learn more about alternatives unknown to us.

There are always alternatives in life. What I have learned from this adventure is to first wait, breathe deeply, focus, pray, listen more, talk to people who care about you personally, and ask God for wisdom in taking each step of the journey, listening for that small voice whispering “This is the way, walk in it.”

I had no family near by and felt lonely when we moved to California from Virginia. Isolation is not healthy for anyone, so I actively sought other ways to connect with people.  I read about the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction workshop in the newspaper and called.  When I was able to get into the seminar, I felt quickly at home and made it a point to continue through the entire series and even took it a second time asking Michael to join me.

The Cancer Support Community here is heaven-sent, with remarkable publications and programs offering comfort and reliable means by which we can find calmer islands in our troubled seas when we are faced with life’s uncertainty. We learn we can live one day at a time, for that is all any of us is given. We are fortified by wisdom and courage of others who have hacked through the jungles before us. When I wake in the morning, before my feet hit the ground, I thank God I am alive. We can be more “mindful” about these precious lives we have, focusing on being present in the moment and expressing gratitude for what we have and less on what we don’t have. Both my husband and I have benefited by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Seminar led by the amazing Catherine Baum. We also felt healing at the Laughter Yoga and the comedy nights.

As a cancer survivor, your diagnosis takes you off guard and you feel adrift and disconnected as well as vulnerable. Whereas before, “IT” was out “there” — but now, the dreaded “big C” stealthily invaded your body without permission or your cognitive awareness. After that, you always wonder if any new mishap or strange feeling may be another  “hidden menace.” So you have to be mindful to breathe in a healthy way and to accept your life in smaller doses, with gratitude. You become a part of a new “community” that is fighting the scourge and you get a sense that others at the center understand your sometimes unstable and shaky emotions.

Being here on the Central Coast, embraced by the enduring mountains and the everlasting sea, helps me gain a perspective on the expansive beauty of this wonderful planet we live on. I actively seek creative expression whenever I can. I teach on-line college courses, do clay sculpture and photography and visit many of the music and art festivals and galleries. It is such good news that folks take precious time to lovingly create art, making our sometimes dark world that much brighter. I love reading books on creative problem solving, faith development, and artistic expression, one being A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It prompted me to ponder thankfulness daily and actively keep a gratitude journal. My pets also remind me they live in the moment, find fascination in little things, and probably hardly fret about the future!

The mission of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara is to ensure that all adults and children impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.

Your donation helps us offer our programs free of charge, so that anyone can benefit. Click here to make a difference today.

Ask the Expert: Genetic Counseling with John Lee, MS, LCGC

JohnLeeMSLCGCJohn Lee, MS, LCGC is a genetic counselor in the GenRISK® Adult Genetics Program at Cedars-Sinai. On Thursday, October 29, 2015 he will present a Genetic Counseling Workshop at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara. For those who can’t make it to the workshop, Mr. Lee was kind enough to provide the following Q&A for our readers.

How can genetic counseling be beneficial to someone with a genetic diagnosis or the possibility of having a hereditary disorder?

Genetic counseling can be an important resource for patients with a genetic diagnosis to help them navigate their healthcare decisions, psychological needs, and implications to family members. For those who have a possibility of having a hereditary disorder, genetic counseling can be useful to help them explore their options and make an informed decision about whether genetic testing is a good option for them.

For someone receiving genetic counseling for the first time, what can they generally expect from the experience?

A typical first genetic counseling session will include a review of your relevant personal medical history, a detailed review of your family history, and a discussion of how genetics may or may not play a role within your family. A genetic counselor will assess whether genetic testing is indicated, and if so, will discuss the options and outcomes regarding genetic testing to help patients make informed decisions about their medical management. If genetic testing is performed, there is usually a second genetic counseling session to review the results and determine the best recommendations for both the patient and their family members.

What have been some of the major recent breakthroughs in the study of BRCA 1 & 2, gene mutation, or hereditary breast and ovarian cancers?

The past few years have been an exciting time of growth within the genetic testing field. Several factors, such as rapidly advancing technology as well as a Supreme Court decision, have changed our ability to detect more hereditary causes of cancer.

In June 2013, a landmark decision by the Supreme Court invalidated several patents related to BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing held by a genetic testing laboratory. This ruling has allowed several other genetic testing laboratories to offer clinical testing to patients. This has resulted in lower prices, faster turn around times, and more accessibility for eligible patients.

New technology known as next generation sequencing has helped advance the field of genetic testing in several ways. Next generation sequencing allows laboratories to analyze multiple genes simultaneously in a more cost effective and time efficient manner than before. It has led to the discovery of several new genes related to hereditary cancer, including both hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It has also provided us with more information on other moderate risk genes that were previously identified, but for which not much data was available.

There is a possibility that there are hereditary causes of cancer other than BRCA1 and BRCA2 and multi-gene panels may help in determining these other genetic mutations. Genetic testing may help identify a cause of a cancer, define risks for other cancers, and provide risk assessment for other family members. Genetic testing results can be used to tailor an individualized management plan for a patient based upon their level of risk. Options for patients may include increased screening, prophylactic surgery, or chemoprevention. Multi-gene panel tests may be appropriate for patients who have previously had BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing and were negative, or for those who have never had genetic testing.

It is important to note that we are still learning more every day about these newer cancer susceptibility genes. Some genetic test results, known as variants of uncertain significance, can be difficult to interpret and may not offer immediate clarity for a patient regarding their cancer risks. Other results may detect a mutation in a gene where cancer risks are not fully known at this time. While certain families may benefit, newer genetic testing options may not be an optimal test for all patients.


What criteria do you recommend for deciding if someone can benefit from genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling can be beneficial for both patients who have had cancer and for those who have not. A genetic counselor will provide a full risk assessment based upon the personal and family history and determine if genetic testing is warranted. It is important to note that some forms of risk assessment can be evaluated without formal genetic testing and this can still be useful in helping a patient determine their risks and the best medical management. Genetic counseling is recommended for anyone that would like to know more about their possible risks of developing cancer.


John Lee, MS, LCGC is a genetic counselor in the GenRISK® Adult Genetics Program at Cedars-Sinai. Mr. Lee is actively involved in clinical cancer genetics, including risk assessment, genetic testing, case management, and genetic counseling services. He is an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

Learn aboutupcoming educational and support programs offered by the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara on our calendar page.

Make a difference for people with cancer and their loved ones by making a donation to the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.