History

CSC uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care.

In 1982, Harold and Harriet Benjamin transformed the way our culture faces cancer. Harriet, a cancer survivor herself, sought to create an organization that would provide social and emotional support to not only cancer patients, but also to families, friends, and caregivers. The Benjamins strongly encouraged psychosocial care because they believed in a strong correlation between emotional and physical well-being. Thus, the first walk-in community facility of its kind, The Wellness Community (TWC), was founded in Santa Monica, CA as an outlet for those suffering from cancer to receive appropriate support.

Gilda Radner and Harold Benjamin

One of the biggest advocates of TWC was late comedian and “SNL” cast member Gilda Radner. When diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986, Radner sought support from TWC. She called for similar support-focused organizations to be available not only on the West coast, but everywhere. Unfortunately, in 1989, Gilda passed away.

In honor of Gilda’s legacy, her husband Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull, along with friends and family, founded Gilda’s Club in 1991. The first local Affiliate organization, Gilda’s Club New York City (GCNYC), opened its iconic Red Door in 1995.

In 2007, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, a groundbreaking report on the importance of addressing the social and emotional needs of individuals facing cancer, rather than just their physical needs—an idea The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide had both been implementing for many years. This eventually sparked merger discussions between the two organizations, which aimed to increase operating efficiency and reduce overall costs in order to provide greater resources and influence.

In 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide merged, becoming a united organization under the name Cancer Support Community. As a result of this union, Cancer Support Community is now the largest provider of cancer support worldwide, with 42 affiliates across the country – including Cancer Support Community Greater San Gabriel Valley – and also in Canada, Israel and Japan. CSC has dramatically increased its capacity to reach even more people touched by cancer.

The organization has developed the Cancer Support Helpline, the Cancer Experience Registry and greatly expanded the Frankly Speaking About Cancer educational materials and radio shows. Further, CSC established the Research & Training Institute and the Cancer Policy Institute, and piloted an inaugural hospital-integrated model. Through all of these developments, CSC has worked to further expand its services so that “no one faces cancer alone”.

Cancer Support Community Greater San Gabriel Valley

Cancer Support Community Greater San Gabriel Valley (“CSC”) was the third CSC affiliate established in 1990 by our founders Debbie Bolton, RN, Dr. Marguerite Marsh, Arlene Harder, and the late Paul Taylor. Anne Kennedy served as the organization’s first Executive Director and continues to be actively involved in CSC today.

CSC, then known as the Wellness Community – Foothills, first operated in a small house located at Hill Street in Pasadena and later moved to 200 E. Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena where it remained for 23 years. In 2009, the organization renamed to Cancer Support Community Pasadena. In 2016, CSC moved to a new location at 76 E. Del Mar Blvd. and remained there for 7 years.

After over three decades years of providing support, education and hope to families facing cancer – in three different leased facilities – Cancer Support Community purchased a building in Sierra Madre and opened its doors in its new permanent home in July 2023 as Cancer Support Community Greater San Gabriel Valley.

CSC has served tens of thousands of people challenged with cancer. Each year, your support plays a crucial role to our organization’s operations, allowing us to continue to offer over 21 weekly support groups, and over 30 healthy lifestyle classes, educational seminars, and social activities each month to those in our community who need us most, all FREE OF CHARGE.