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Tech, Health, and Cancer

biden on main csc blogThe burgeoning intersection of health and technology holds tremendous promise. As experts in both fields are increasingly mindful of the other’s value, if not inevitability, we see exciting and meaningful examples of innovation in technology-enabled clinical care. Leveraging technology in the service of cancer patients and their families is not new to the Cancer Support Community (CSC). Our expansion into the tech space includes an array of digital tools to improve care for cancer patients and their providers, including Cancer Support Source, a comprehensive distress screening program for community oncology practices and patient advocacy groups; CancerEd, a series of eLearning courses for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers; and the Cancer Experience Registry, a unique online community that allows people facing cancer to share their experiences, identify the issues that impact their lives, and learn from one another. (I strongly encourage our readers to explore these resources by clicking on the links provided.)

On trend with the proliferation of tech in health, this year’s South By Southwest Festival (SXSW), historically a convergence of the film and music industries, had a notable healthcare focus. From panels on patient-centric care and dynamic innovations in healthcare, to a novel three part series, Connect to End Cancer, health and tech experts from around the world came together to discuss their shared future. I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s SXSW and was struck by the thoughtfulness of many of the panelists I heard. From social determinants of health to unequal distribution of digital resources, I was relieved to see technologists acknowledge the critical importance of anchoring innovation to the lived experience of patients and clinicians. Conversely, healthcare providers – this nurse included – are increasingly supportive of using technology to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Former Vice President Joseph Biden brought the health-tech relationship to center stage, literally and figuratively, at this year’s SXSW. Addressing a packed and eager audience, Biden announced his plans for the Biden Cancer Initiative and called on all innovators and entrepreneurs to take on ending cancer as we know it, a continuing call to action from his leadership of the White House Cancer Moonshot.

Biden is right to identify the promise and unprecedented opportunity of addressing healthcare challenges through innovation, and CSC supports this trajectory in technology-enabled health services. We are also deeply committed to ensuring that all our efforts, from standard of care to pioneering, address the true needs of patients and families facing cancer because, as one SXSW panelist astutely noted, “If we forget about the human side of this, whether it’s the physician or the patient, we lose.”


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT- Grace Marchand Baskin

Coffee with Yolie: A mother-in-law’s perspective on her daughter-in-law, Yolanda (Yolie) Baskin, who made her recent journey….to Heaven.
by Grace Marchand BaskinYolie

I didn’t know what I could do for her to make her well, again….there was nothing that I could have done that would have made any difference…..nothing, and I’m sad over that. I couldn’t save her one little smidgen.

I even told her parents I would if I could, even if it meant losing my own life, as I’ve lived a good one, and as old as I now am (just turned 70 years young) why oh why could I not have been able to transfer some of those years over to her? She needed them more than I did, and it would be wonderful to be able to help her do the same, as all she wanted was to see her children grow,  but …..all I could do were some things, I think I do best: have a great cup of coffee, and write, so I did.  Each morning began with me making a pot of coffee to perk, and when ready, I’d call her wherever she was, home or hospital, and say, “Okay, I’m having coffee now”, and she’d reply, “I am, too, mom, with a biscotti.” (She loved biscotti so much I dubbed her Yolie Biscotti)……and then,

I started writing her letters after her brain surgery, and each time she had to go back to UCLA, and then in the care center, then at home…..etc., sketching colorful pictures on the envelopes, and stationary, filling lines with sweet or funny phrases and memories……telling her how much I have always appreciated her taking such great care of my son…….how she always made his dreams, hers, how good her parents were to him – he has great in-laws…..just some of the stuff that I wanted her to know while she was alive and well, and for that matter, I’ve told her these things many times over the years they were married, just so nothing ever, was left unsaid.  We had a comfortable relationship, and again, the fact that she was so “there” for my son, all of the time, no matter what – I knew that if things were reversed she would be in his court front and center: there’s nothing more I can say, except – he will never find another like her. I fill my cup of coffee in the morning, look over at the Sacred Heart of Jesus picture that mom gave me, then at Yolie’s picture, and say, “Here’s to you”, and I’m going to keep saying it because there it is….coffee with Yolie, now, and always. Love, Mom B. xo


Help us welcome new staff member

McCall James joins the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara as the new Director of Events.McCall James.jpg

McCall graduated from the University of Arizona with Business degree from Eller College of Management. McCall formerly operated as a project manager consulting in the banking and financial industries for multiple national companies. She’s also an avid volunteer, personally co-hosting multiple successful fundraising events associated with the LA Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

After moving back to her hometown of Westlake Village with her husband, Michael, McCall is ready to grow her roots in the nonprofit world.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the CSC family. I am passionate about bringing people together and providing support to those affected by cancer, all of which my role as event planner and position within this dynamic organization will directly accomplish,” said McCall. “I look forward channeling my energies as we seek new sponsors and heighten awareness about all of the wonderful resources we offer to participants and their families. I will be diving right in as we host our annual Wings of Hope Gala on Friday, May 5 at 6:30pm at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation with over 400 expected in attendance; it will be an exceptional evening.”

Please help us welcome McCall James to the Cancer Support Community.

“Dear Cancer, It’s Me” High School Essay Competition Update

We received 40 essays written by students from over 23 high schools from the San Dan StepanoskyFernando Valley to Santa Barbara who have experienced cancer themselves, or who have a loved one or friend with cancer. Now 30 judges, selected from the community, are reading these heartfelt, poignant essays. One judge remarked, “each essay was so incredibly brave, sad and hopeful.” The finalists and their families will gather at an awards ceremony on Sunday, May 21, where the winners will be announced. Dr. Dan Stepenosky, Superintendent of Las Virgenes Unified School District, will graciously join us as our keynote speaker. Thank you to the generosity of our sponsors, Premier America Credit Union and Union Bank, for making this incredibly important program possible.
Sponsored by:

Volunteer Spotlight – Liz Fahy

Liz Fahy has been involved with CSC for six months as a volunteer on the front desk.Liz

How did you hear about Cancer Support Community?   I became aware of CSC in October 2016 when I was seeking voluntary work, particularly in the area of cancer. I noticed the CSC while driving past one day and immediately pulled into the parking lot. I was greeted very enthusiastically and arranged a visit with a view to becoming a volunteer. I was also advised to join one of the support groups which meets weekly at CSC. This group has provided a huge amount of comfort and, perhaps surprisingly, there is a lot of laughter!

How has cancer impacted your life?   I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, less than two years after moving from London, to start a new life in California. It was a confusing time. Not only had no member of my family ever been diagnosed with cancer but, in terms of medical care, I was in very unfamiliar territory. I wish that I had known about CSC then. The cancer returned in early 2016 and I finished my second round of chemotherapy last July. At that point I felt very strongly that I wanted to help, in any way possible, other people with this disease.

What do you find most rewarding about your volunteer work with CSC?   From the moment that I walk into CSC, I am overwhelmed by the warmth, dedication, compassion and positivity of everyone involved. One of the most rewarding moments so far involved a distress phone call when I was very new to CSC. I think/hope that I dealt with this compassionately.

What are you working on right now for CSC?   In addition to my work on the front desk, I have volunteered to help with any tasks required in the week preceding the Gala. I will also be involved in preparations for the auction and in setting it up at the Reagan Library on May 5.

Please say “hello” next time you see Liz at the front desk.