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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.”

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.

ASK THE EXPERT -Eliminate Stress & Seek Inner Peace through Meditation by Vinay Chhabra

water lilyJoin the 4-week series of Guided Meditation:

Week 1:  Philosophy and Science of Meditation
Week 2:  Managing Stress
Week 3:  Coping with the Attachment
Week 4:  Living in Present

Several scientific studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on a huge range of health conditions, including cancer, depression and post–traumatic disorder. Meditation has even been found to protect the mind from aging and it will make you calm, gentle, loving and give you freedom from fear.

Here are testimonials from attendees at classes held at the YMCA, Senior Concerns, Alzheimer’s Association Network Meeting and Agoura Hills Recreation Center.

“Thank You so much to Vinay and Pacific Senior Care for the meditation classes. We have 2 little boys and the meditation class was very helpful to me. It brought an awareness to me to live in the present.  I really appreciate the classes.,  Thank you again.”

“Yes My wife and I both enjoyed the presentation and the topics. I must say were right in accordance with our needs as we age.  While it was very new to me, I was having problems with my arthritis and the Yoga played a very important role in helping my condition.  I plan to continue with the Yoga and Meditation at home, however doing it in class would significantly help. Once again both my wife and I want to thank Vinay for the class.  I also want to say I sent an email to  YMCA with my appreciation for having this class a couple weeks ago.”
Jim & Evelin

“I enjoyed the classes and wished it wasn’t cut short (for me) due to pre-arrangement vacation schedules.  I missed the last two classes and hope I can retake them when you sponsor the same class again. I am practicing what I learned and will try to keep it up.  It does seem to help calm me down in stressful situations.  Thanks again and take care!”

“I did enjoy the classes found it relaxing learning how to cope with daily stressors hope he is going to give more classes.”

“I really liked Vinay’s meditation class.  I would love to take more classes with Vinay.  Please let me know when because I am a beginner and I feel he is a wonderful teacher.”
Sent from my iPhone

Classes will be held on Thursdays April 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th, 2017 from 11-00-12:30pm.  Please RSVP (805) 379-4777

Honorees Announced for Cancer Support Community Wings of Hope Gala

Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB) will hold the WingsCSC Wings of Hope Gala Event Flyer of Hope Gala on May 5, 2017 at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Air Force One Pavilion, with all proceeds to benefitting the organization.

Spend an evening of humor and inspiration celebrating cancer heroes in the community. Each of the honorees has made a notable impact on the well-being of local cancer patients and their families through their connection to Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara.

Celebration of Philanthropy honorees Tami and David Wank have helped make CSCVVSB’s cancer support programs possible through their generosity over the years. They also take an active role in the organization with David as Chair of the Board of Directors and Tami volunteering many hours of her time.
Celebration of Excellence honoree Shahryar Ashouri, MD is a well-known and much-loved physician at the Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks Hematology-Oncology Community Practice Group. His clinic ambition is to provide personalized, targeted therapy to his patients while maintaining their high quality of life. A practice that ties-in directly to the beliefs and mission of CSCVVSB. He consistently refers his patients to the organization.
Celebration of Hope honoree Steve Furnari was encouraged by hope to persevere in the face of cancer. When Steve was first diagnosed, he was told he had six months to live…that was in 1994. Today he credits Cancer Support Community, saying “it was my secret weapon”.
Celebration of Life honorees Ann Houseal and Lauri Rivetti are longtime volunteers at CSCVVSB. Both have seen loved ones affected by cancer and were drawn to Cancer Support Community as a way of giving back. Dedicated members of the Holiday Homes Tour committee, they have served as various chairs and co-chairs of the event.
The biggest fundraiser of the year for the organization; the Gala includes a cocktail reception with silent auction, entertainment, and dinner with live auction. After dinner, dance to the sounds of the Durrell Coleman Band. Proceeds from the Gala fund the children and adult support groups, educational workshops and social events. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available. For more information please contact:
McCall James, Director of Events (805) 379-4777 x233 or
*Views and opinions expressed by Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara are not necessarily shared by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation.
Click here to learn about available sponsorship opportunities.

Help us Welcome Denise Coulter

Cancer Support Community VVSB would like to welcome Denise Coulter, our new Program Assistant!

Denise has been married for 17 years to a law enforcement officer and has two children, ages 9 and 14.  She enjoys scrapbooking and reading in her spare time.

Denise discovered Cancer Support Community VVSB while looking for a place to volunteer her time. She said, “It looked like such an amazing place that made a huge impact in people’s lives.  As I got to know both the staff and participants, I have developed an even greater appreciation for our unique and special community.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be the new Program Assistant.”

Say hello to Denise the next time you’re at CSC!