Skip to content

Archive for

Speaker’s Bureau Spotlight: Jesse Ingalla

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Speaker’s Bureau at Cancer Support Community is a group of people who found hope and encouragement at CSC and are dedicated to spreading the word about the organization’s programs and services. Through speaking engagements at local corporations, service groups, schools and more, the Speaker’s Bureau is a powerful tool, helping to raise awareness of CSC’s offerings throughout our community.

Interested in joining the Speaker’s Bureau or booking a member to talk to your group? Please call (805) 379-4777 to get started.

 

You would have to look very hard to find someone who is more familiar with Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara than Jesse Ingalla. A retired jeweler who lives in Simi Valley, Jesse began as a Caregiver Support Group member, when his wife Lianne was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2008.

When Jesse was diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer in 2009, he already knew where he could go for support and information: Cancer Support Community. He joined the Prostate Cancer Support Group, and he and Lianne attended a wide variety of other CSC programs, including Dance 4 Wellness classes, Susan Speer’s nutrition workshops, and Merv’s Comedy Night. The Ingallas’ grandson also attended the CSC Kids Circle for over a year.

When I think of Cancer Support Community, the first word that comes to mind is ‘hope,’” says Jesse. “I like the feeling of community and the opportunity to be with others going through a similar experience. I’m grateful for the lifelong friends we’ve made.”

Jesse and Lianne consider themselves more informed about the in’s and out’s of the cancer experience because of Cancer Support Community. “My advice to anyone who has just been diagnosed with cancer is: get a second opinion,” says Jesse. “When Lianne was diagnosed with cancer, we panicked right away. We didn’t realize we had time to learn more before jumping into decisions about treatments, which caused extra anxiety.”

When the idea of the Speaker’s Bureau came about, Jesse and Lianne were instantly interested. “The last stage of healing is giving back. As grateful cancer survivors, that is our hope – to be able to give back for years to come,” says Jesse.

Jesse’s favorite Speaker’s Bureau memory is speaking to the St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church Men’s Group. “The audience of about 200 men gave us a standing ovation at the end of our presentation,” recalls Jesse. “An unexpected donation of $500 came in the mail the following week. What a gratifying experience.”

Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your story in order to give back to Cancer Support Community!

Interested in joining the Speaker’s Bureau or booking a member to talk to your group? Please call (805) 379-4777 to get started.

Advertisements

Speaker’s Bureau Spotlight: Art Connolly

The Speaker’s Bureau at Cancer Support Community is a group of people who found hope and encouragement at CSC and are dedicated to spreading the word about the organization’s programs and services. Through speaking engagements at local corporations, service groups, schools and more, the Speaker’s Bureau is a powerful tool, helping to raise awareness of CSC’s offerings throughout our community.

Interested in joining the Speaker’s Bureau or booking a member to talk to your group? Please call (805) 379-4777 to get started.

Each month we will introduce a Speaker’s Bureau member on our blog. Many thanks to Art Connolly for being our first volunteer!

 

ArtConnollyArt Connolly is a three-time cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, thyroid cancer in 2006, and small bowel adenocarcinoma in 2008. He had to undergo surgery for all three occurrences and went through six months of  chemotherapy for the adenocarcinoma. During a visit to his oncologist, he noticed a brochure for the Cancer Support Community (then called The Wellness Community) in the waiting room. Art and his wife Paula both attended regular support groups through the end of 2010.

“I believe the Cancer Support Community has helped me grow a lot,” says Art. “Being in a support group has made me a better listener.  My wife and I have made several very good friends, as I like to put it, ‘The kind of friendships that used to happen only in foxholes in wartime.’”

After “graduating” from regular support group attendance, Art began meeting with a group of other CscVvsb “alumni” and helping out at various events. This group morphed into the Speaker’s Bureau – people who had benefited from CscVvsb’s programs and wanted to share their story with community groups to raise awareness of cancer support resources.

As a dedicated Speaker’s Bureau member, Art has represented CSC at speaking engagements for many different groups and organizations. He has also volunteered his time to represent CSC at Health Fairs, and has helped fellow cancer survivors as a Buddy Book volunteer – offering to provide one-on-one support to someone with the same diagnosis as him.

“I wanted to give back to an organization that was such a wonderful help to me and my wife during my most recent cancer journey,” says Art, who adds that his favorite aspect of volunteering is “the positive reaction from people we speak with who had no idea such a support system was available.”

Recently retired after a career in aerospace engineering and management, Art lives in West Hills with his wife, Paula. We want to thank Art for being an advocate for the Cancer Support Community.

Interested in joining the Speaker’s Bureau or booking a member to talk to your group? Please call (805) 379-4777 to get started.

Survivor Spotlight: Dean Benjamin

Dean Benjamin and his wife Laura during a visit to Istanbul in spring, 2015

Dean Benjamin and his wife Laura during a visit to Istanbul in spring, 2015

Although cancer is a common denominator among everyone who comes to Cancer Support Community, many people have their own specific reasons for making that crucial first visit. Some people are reluctant but their spouse, children or friends have encouraged them to seek a support group. Some people come in the door for a physician workshop and end up signing up for more activities. Others start as volunteers and end up needing CSC’s services down the road.

“Desperation” is what led Dean Benjamin to contact CSC. In 2014 Dean, retired from his job as a general manager in electronics manufacturing, was diagnosed with Stage 2B cancer of the tonsil and tongue. His treatment was a combination of chemotherapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy, and his prognosis was excellent. His doctors were highly confident that the cancer would be eradicated.

Although Dean’s outlook for battling the cancer was good, the adverse side effects of his treatment threw him into what he describes as “the depths of despair.” Desperate for help, Dean went online and found out about Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.

“I was not hesitant or scared because I was truly desperate,” recalls Dean. “I feared that if I did not seek help, my life might be over, at least figuratively speaking. When one reaches that point, hesitancy and fear are cast aside.”

Since that day when Dean sought help, he and his wife Laura have taken full advantage of the comprehensive slate of programs offered at CSC. Dean has attended several support groups, plus yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction, Reiki, and lymphedema treatment. Laura, who was Dean’s primary caregiver during treatment, has done support groups, yoga, and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

“Through interaction with others who were either going through treatment or who had previously gone through treatment, I learned that I was not alone. I also saw the positives that come with cancer, including facing and accepting the reality of one’s own mortality,” says Dean.

“Dean comforts with his words and encourages with his smile,” says CSC group facilitator Roland Rotz, PhD. “He acknowledges the yin and yang of cancer. While he is better, he understands the meaning of ‘new normal.’”

Dean’s story is a testament that even in the darkest hour, hope is possible if you reach out and ask for help.

“After a year of treatment and a horrible recovery stage, and with the help of CSC, life got much better,” says Dean. “Cancer helped me realize the treasure of each day, and that to squander one’s days is an irrecoverable loss.”