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Posts from the ‘Special Events’ Category

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.


Meet the 2013 Evening of Hope Honorees

With great pride and gratitude, the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara announces our 2013 Evening of Hope Gala Honorees:

2013GalaLogoCelebration of Excellence – Paul Miller, MD

Celebration of Hope – Dale Richter

Celebration of Life – Renee Ripps

Celebration of Philanthropy – Anthem Blue Cross

Lifetime Achievement – Marty Nason, RN, MN

We are pleased to share their stories below, and hope that you are inspired. Please join us at the Four Seasons on Friday, May 3rd to celebrate these outstanding individuals. Click here for tickets.

Celebration of Excellence – Paul J. Miller, M.D.

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“Cancer is my nemesis, and this is my opportunity to fight back.”

Dr. Paul Miller’s determination to fight cancer is both professional and deeply personal. On Christmas Eve, when Dr. Miller was just seven, he lost his father to esophageal cancer. His mother was later diagnosed with breast cancer and survived.

“Cancer is my nemesis, and this is my opportunity to fight back,” says Dr. Miller, a Radiation Oncologist practicing in Thousand Oaks. “Because of my personal experience with cancer, I have a deep appreciation for the emotional trauma that it can cause.”

Dr. Miller has been a supporter of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara since its founding days and is a member of the CSCVVSB Professional Advisory Board.

After earning degrees in Chemistry, Psychology and Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas, Dr. Miller worked briefly as a research engineer in the aerospace field in southern California, working on the development of the space shuttle. He then worked in a genetics research lab at the University of Kansas where he later attended medical school and completed his training in Radiation Oncology.

Board-certified by the American College of Radiology, Dr. Miller spent over 17 years as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA School of Medicine. He has published research on high-grade brain tumors, and has actively participated in studies on breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain tumors. Dr. Miller has used his engineering background to spearhead the advancement of optimal technologies for cancer treatment.

His specialized knowledge of the science behind radiation, combined with firsthand experience of his parents’ cancer battles, allows Dr. Miller to treat his patients with confidence and compassion.

“Dr. Miller gives you the assurance he knows every detail of your individual situation,” says Gail Crawford, a thirteen-year breast cancer survivor who was treated by Dr. Miller. “He spends a great deal of time carefully explaining the step by step process of radiation treatment and what the benefits will be.  His time, attention to detail and sincere caring attitude take away any fear.”

Celebration of Hope – Dale Richter

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“My family gave me the reason to fight cancer, my doctors gave me the ability to beat it, and the Cancer Support Community gave me the hope to get through it.”

Dale Richter is an eleven-year esophageal cancer survivor and a dedicated advocate for the Cancer Support Community. Diagnosed in 2002, Dale went through two months of chemotherapy and radiation, followed by major surgery and more than a month in the hospital due to complications. Halfway through his chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he joined a support group at CSCVVSB, and for the next year and a half he went every week.

With the support of his family, his doctors, and his CSCVVSB friends, Dale held on to hope, even when one website told him he had a three-percent chance of survival.  “I just decided I wasn’t going to give up,” says Dale.

Wanting to give back to the organization that helped him find hope, Dale became a founding member of the CSCVVSB Speaker’s Bureau last year. In 2012, this panel of CSC participants gave more than 28 presentations to UCLA students, middle schoolers, corporations, service clubs and churches in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

“The first time I had to speak, I was scared to death,” says Dale. “But the Cancer Support Community has done so much for me… I need to let people know about this valuable resource.”

“Dale inspires us with his persistent search for healing and perspective,” says fellow Speakers Bureau member Mark McAlister. “He continues to amaze us with his animated presentation style and his resolve to find humor in an overwhelming situation.”

For nearly seven years Dale has also given back to CSCVVSB by leading orientation sessions for new participants. He also facilitated a post-treatment cancer networking group.

“One of the last stages of healing is giving back. That’s why I do it,” says Dale.

Celebration of Life – Renee Ripps

Photo by Ken Taylor

Photo by Ken Taylor

“It lifts my heart to be among the people at the Cancer Support Community.”

For the past eight years Renee Ripps has been an indispensible member of our volunteer team, consistently stepping up as a leader when a need arises.

After retiring as a school principal in Oxnard, Renee was looking for a volunteer position. She knew she wanted to make a difference for people affected by cancer. The disease had afflicted two of the most important people in her life – her mother and her beloved nanny, who had lived with her family for 50 years.

Having met CSCVVSB President Suzanne Drace through the Oxnard School District Educational Foundation, she decided to look into CSCVVSB as a place to devote her time. When she met with Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Way, she felt strongly that this was the place for her.

Renee started working every other week as a front desk volunteer and quickly expanded her service to many areas. She headed up a group of volunteers to regularly prepare and mail calendars and brochures to doctor’s offices and hospitals in L.A. and Ventura Counties, providing essential community awareness of CSCVVSB’s programs. She also co-chairs the Registration Committee for the Evening of Hope Gala, and coordinates the scheduling of volunteers to help during educational and social events.

“Renee offers to do any task with a spirit of service and creativity,” says Marilyn Way, who worked with Renee during her time as CSCVVSB Volunteer Coordinator. “As a front desk volunteer she always has a smile and a kind word for everyone. She truly fits the definition of a volunteer.”

“Having seen what my mother and our nanny went through, I just want to give back to people who are in that same position – to alleviate the stress and the pain caused by cancer,” says Renee. “It lifts my heart to be among the people at the Cancer Support Community.”

Celebration of Philanthropy – Anthem Blue Cross

anthem logo - new

Simply put, Anthem Blue Cross helped us open our doors. More than twenty years ago, Anthem Blue Cross (then known as Blue Cross of California) was an original founder of the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (formerly known as The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura).

As CSCVVSB has grown, Anthem Blue Cross has continued to provide financial support that allows us to empower and strengthen cancer survivors and their families. Anthem employees have volunteered their time to help build our Garden of Hope, paint meeting rooms for cancer support groups, and maintain our building. Each year Anthem invites CSCVVSB to participate in health fairs to spread awareness of CSCVVSB’s support programs for cancer survivors and their families.

CSCVVSB is only one of many organizations to benefit from the philanthropic work of Anthem Blue Cross. In 2011, Anthem Blue Cross, its Foundation and its associates donated $3.4 Million to improve health and strengthen California’s communities. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges. Priorities include prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges.

“We are in the business of helping people navigate the health care system, and we recognize that when people are very ill, understanding how to get help is a big part of getting better. For that reason, the Cancer Support Community aligns very well with our mission,” says Pam Kehaly, Anthem Blue Cross President and a member of the CSCVVSB Board of Directors.

We wish to thank Anthem Blue Cross for their ongoing commitment to helping members of our community find hope in their cancer journey.

Lifetime Achievement – Marty Nason, RN, MN


Photo by Ken Taylor

“I am motivated every day as I watch people transition from frightened victims to empowered victors with help from the Cancer Support Community philosophy.” 

As Co-Founder and Vice-President of Programs for the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, Marty Nason, RN, MN has devoted the last 25 years of her life to helping people with cancer replace fear with hope.

Thirty years ago, as a nurse specializing in counseling people with chronic illness, Marty attended a seminar at the first Wellness Community in Santa Monica and was impressed with their philosophy. Several years later, after the loss of her father to cancer, Marty decided to start a support group for cancer patients similar to those held at TWC in Santa Monica. She contacted Beth Kin, RN, MS, OCN, then an oncology nurse at Los Robles Medical Center. Beth was thrilled with the idea, having seen an urgent need in her patients for emotional and social support.

Marty and Beth met with Wellness Community founder Harold Benjamin, Ph.D to learn more about starting a support group. Dr. Benjamin convinced them to do much more than start a group – he told them to start their own Wellness Community!

It took a vast amount of research, fundraising, and community support. But with the help of many, Marty and Beth succeeded in opening The Wellness Community Valley/Ventura in 1991. Now called the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, the organization serves more than 3,200 people each year with programs in English and Spanish throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and into the San Fernando Valley.

As Vice President of Programs, Marty has lent her skilled and caring spirit to all aspects of CSCVVSB’s services. Whether facilitating a support group, setting up a comprehensive slate of programs and events, or leading the clinical staff, Marty does it all with integrity, wisdom, and a sense of humor that puts everyone around her at ease. “I am motivated every day as I watch people transition from frightened victims to empowered victors with help from the CSC philosophy,” says Marty.

Marty says her time at CSCVVSB has never felt like work. “I received much more than I have given,” she says. “There have been so many gratifying moments, starting with the miracle of CSCVVSB’s existence, thanks to the generosity of our Board of Directors, volunteers, donors, and staff. The opening of the Garden of Hope has been hugely exciting. And it is always rewarding to see the unique and loving bond that develops among support group members.”

Marty is grateful for her family’s ongoing support and encouragement. “They have always shared my vision and have made their own sacrifices to help make CSCVVSB a reality,” she says. Marty also acknowledges her admiration for the CSCVVSB clinical staff, six of which have been with CSCVVSB for more than 16 years. “I admire their passion, empathy, and support. Their skill and dedication have made our programs successful,” says Marty. She also appreciates CSCVVSB President Suzanne Drace for her leadership, empathy, and vision…and for always understanding the importance of CSCVVSB programs.

“Marty brings her knowledge, patience, nursing background, compassion and peace to people who are fighting the battle of their lives,” says Co-Founder Beth Kin. “She is a shining light to all who know her, and her commitment to CSCVVSB knows no boundaries. She has given us her heart and we thank her with all of our hearts.”


Peek Inside These Incredible Homes

Our 21st Annual Holiday Homes Tour is scheduled for Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 1 & 2!

Get your tickets now, and open the door to hope for people with cancer and their families this holiday season.

Here are some tidbits about the one-of-a-kind homes on this year’s tour:

A Tuscan Christmas

Come celebrate A Tuscan Christmas in this 4,800 square-foot home in the Morrison Highlands area of Agoura Hills.

Notable indoor features include the French Morice range, wine bar, and iron details. The grounds include a pool and side yard with an Italian rose and citrus garden. The limestone fountain can be seen through the dining room.

This young family’s holiday collection includes beloved items passed from mother to daughter, as well as new treasures for the children to grow up with.  The hand painted advent calendar has been a special part of the holidays since the owner’s childhood. The Tiffany Christmas china was passed down from the previous generation. Individual trees and ornaments fill the children’s bedrooms with youthful Christmas cheer.

Celebrating the Season

This gorgeous North Ranch home is the perfect place to celebrate the Season of Light – the house is fully powered by sunlight!

In 2008, the owners had a 24-panel array of 8 panels each installed on their land; it is thought to be one of the largest residential solar panel installations in the state.

The sprawling four-acre estate also features a swimming pool, spa, rose garden, wisteria arbor, and 54 queen palms.

Christmas Vacation

A visit to this impressive outdoor living space is like a destination vacation right here in Westlake Village.  Panoramic views, a sparkling infinity pool, and eight-foot waterfalls set the scene; while the 24-foot barbecue and extravagant cooking island ensure that you’ll never go hungry.

Television’s popular “Modern Marvels” series on the History Channel featured this outdoor living space on its “BBQ Tech” episode in 2005.

Guests can relax by the nine-foot high fireplace and enjoy the plasma television and outdoor sound system. The infinity pool, overlooking 180-degrees of Westlake Village’s natural beauty, features decorative jets with fiber optic lighting and waterfalls.

The Colours of Christmas

What do you get when you combine classic English Country style with festive holiday hues? The Colours of Christmas!

Perhaps the most dramatic feature on the tour of this 8,900 Country Club Estates home is the Zuber scene on the dining room wall. Founded in 1797 in France, the Zuber company engraves original paintings onto wooden blocks to make impressive wallpaper scenes. The scene in the dining room, called “El Dorado,” is from blocks manufactured in 1849. The French government has ruled the Zuber blocks national treasures, and Jacqueline Kennedy had a Zuber scene installed in the White House.

Brillig Manor

Brillig Manor, home to the owners for the past 38 years, is full of a local artist’s colorful and vivacious perspective, beginning with the large mosaic balls in the garden and continuing to the etched glass angels welcoming visitors at the front entrance.

Many “you have to see it to believe it” moments await, with a giant mosaic Monopoly board in the atrium, angels and mosaics of all shapes, colors, and sizes, and furniture painted by the owner.

When the magic of the holidays meets the wonder of Brillig Manor, the possibilities are endless…

Welcome to the Mystery.

A Sweet Way to Kick Off the Holidays

On November 11 we held our 5th Annual Gingerbread Event to kick off the holiday season at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara!

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