Cancer Support Community is an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope to people with cancer and their loved ones. Through participation in professionally-led support groups, educational workshops, nutrition and exercise programs, and stress-reduction classes, people affected by cancer learn vital skills that enable them to regain control, reduce isolation and restore hope regardless of the stage of their disease. Cancer Support Community provides support, education and hope for people with cancer at over 100 locations worldwide including 42 U.S. based and 4 international centers with 73 satellite and offsite programs and online.
The Wellness Community was founded by Dr. Harold Benjamin in Santa Monica, California in 1982. As a result of experience with his wife’s breast cancer and through subsequent years of study on the psychological and social impact of cancer, Dr. Benjamin formulated the Patient Active Concept that states that, "People with cancer who participate in their fight for recovery from cancer will improve the quality of their life and may enhance the possibility of their recovery." A person who sees him or herself as a "Patient Active" is someone who considers themselves part of the fight for recovery along with their physicians and health care team. A Patient Active also adopts a series of actions, behaviors and attitudes that will improve the quality of his or her life and may enhance the possibility of recovery. This revolutionary idea would be recognized years later at Walt Disney EPCOT Metropolitan Life exhibit as one of the most significant developments in the evolution of modern health care. In addition to the Patient Active Concept, the other significant cornerstone of the program is that all services are provided free of charge in a home-like, community setting.
“Community” is perhaps the most important aspect of Cancer Support Community model of care that differentiates the program from any other. Today, thousands of people with cancer and their loved ones unite together through our programs. People come at diagnosis, during or at the end of treatment, at recurrence or several years out of treatment. They all come to learn that they are not alone in their fight…whether for physical, emotional or spiritual recovery. Together, they regain a sense of control over their lives and ultimately discover that hope is a valuable tool, irrespective of the stage of the disease.
From Dr. Benjamin's first program in a little yellow house in Santa Monica, The Wellness Community, now Cancer Support Community, has grown to 42 facilities throughout the country with 7 additional facilities currently in development. In addition, Cancer Support Community has four facilities abroad and online support.
A significant factor in expansion of facilities in the early 1990's can be directly attributed to Gilda Radner, a participant at TWC until her death from ovarian cancer in 1989. In her book, It's Always Something, she shared extensively about her experience at The Wellness Community. As countless patients have read her book, many have gone on to help bring a facility to their area.
The National organization was officially formed in 1989 to facilitate expansion outside California. In 1997, the National headquarters moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. A new Board of Directors was formed that reflected more national representation and a new CEO was hired. In 2002, the National headquarters relocated to Washington, DC. In 2007, The Wellness Community celebrated its 25th Anniversary.
The Headquarters offices of The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide unveiled their new, combined identity – Cancer Support Community – at a landmark Cancer Summit on November 7, 2009.
Click here to go to Cancer Support Community - National website.