What the Cancer Support Community means to me….by Andrea Roschke
In 2003, my husband Mark (who was 44 years old at the time) was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV brain tumor. If you look up this tumor, it is typically followed by the sentence….”the most aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.” They told us the average life expectancy for this type of tumor is two years.
Our lives were turned upside down by this diagnosis, to say the least. Our two boys were 15 and 16 at the time. Mark was heartbroken about leaving them, and just wished he could at least see them graduate high school.
Thanks to good medicine and otherwise good health, Mark was an excellent candidate for beating the odds. The hard part was finding the emotional strength to fight, and to not just accept defeat. He found this strength, and so much more, at the Cancer Support Community.
By sharing stories, fears and wishes with the other participants, Mark found hope. He found the will to survive. He learned to live one day at a time and to make every day a good day. He used to say….”don’t count the days, make the days count.” And he lived eight years. He did beat the odds, and he saw his boys finish high school, and even college. He had a great life. And his story continues to inspire countless other who followed him.
We are forever grateful to the Cancer Support Community for the services they provided, and for the extra time we had with Mark as a result. And that's why I am inspired to give back....forever and always.
Review from #MyGivingStory
1992-1993 Breast Cancer - Mastectomy on Left side 1995-1996 Basal Cell Carcenoma 1998 - Neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer - surgery 2007 - Neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer - surgery 3
I am a proud volunteer at TWC Valley Ventura. I say proud because to be a small part of such a "big" hearted non-profit organization gives me much joy and hope in the goodness of my "wellness community" family. I have seen first-hand how our programs of support, education and hope have improved the lives of cancer patients, their families and loved ones. Visit us and see for yourself!!!!
I joined the Wellness Community during my third month of chemo. They provided loving, emotional support I desparately needed as I struggled to me a mom of three infants (1, 2, and 3 years old). There is no price for the value they provided and I continue to be part of the group as I struggle with recovery and the fear of recurrence. When treatment is over, the pain sets in as does the reality of dealing with cancer and treatment for the rest of your life.
I came to The Wellness Community after my treatment for breast cancer. I was in the first group of women who completed their treatment in the past year. We met for 8 weeks, twice a week, and had great speakers, did yoga. I learned so much about the disease, nutrition and made great friends.
My mother-in-law, from another culture and another country, suffered through invasive cancer and was, even the week before her death, insisting she was in the hospice "only for for a rest and would be going home in a couple of days." Insisting, that is, to everyone except my husband and I, who thanks to the wonderful openness and caring of Wellness Community Valley Ventura and its extensive programs over the year, promoted and publicized and talked about, had given us information that not only helped us move through the Silent Code but most importantly, establish for ourselves a healthy means of coping. What is the price tag for Valley Ventura's kind of sustained compassion? Priceless. And we bless its influence in the Community, especially since we never realized absorbing their information that we would need to use it ourselves to move through such a personalized Mother-in-Law journey.
My husband Mark was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in December, 2003. At that time, the doctors told us the average life expectancy with this type of tumor was 18 months. We went to a brain tumor support group at the Wellness Community, and Mark found hope there. He met with many others who were just like him, and they had beaten the odds and were living meaningful lives. It changed Mark's perspective completely, and he has been LIVING LIFE and LOVING IT for five and a half years since his diagnosis. There have been bumps in the road, but he tries to make every day a good day, and having our friends from the support group hold us up during the tough times makes a difference. The caregiver's group has also helped me cope and comforted me in my times of need. I have volunteered for many Wellness events; it is a fantastic organization. I am so proud of Mark, and now HE is the one giving hope and inspiration to newly diagnosed members of our group. We love you, Wellness Community!
I'm a cancer survivor, times five... I've had Hodgkin's Disease twice, Breast Cancer, Melanoma and Thyroid (Hurtle Cell) Cancer, spanning 23 years. I volunteer as a Orientation Leader. I watch people that come in - usually newly diagnosed and absolutely panicked - find comfort and hope in TWC's facility/services being there for them. They go from a feeling of isolation, to knowing that they are NOT alone, and that they will find support and empathy from caring professionals, volunteers and other patients that are sharing their journey.
My sister recebtly passed away from lung cancer. The Wellness Community was extremely helpful in helping me to cope with what was happening with my sister and meet with people who were experienceing the same feelings as I was. I atteneded some of the workshops offered and went to a few events. I would encourage anyone needing some support to try the Wellness Community. The people there are incredible!!!
AS soon as my cancer was stable and I had the energy to attend the orientation, my husband and I went. The opportunities for each of us to find our balance through attending the partners weekly workshop helped us voice our concerns and fears with our peers. Things we couldn't say to each other were voiced in a safe environment and answers were received to make our journey more palitable. After a few years I stopped attending, but kept in touch though special events like the Survivors Bar-b-Q and Mindful Meditation Classes. When my cancer metasticized, as it sometimes does, I returned to attend a Women's Weekly Workshop, now, near my home as the Wellness Community expanded their services. I am renewed by the Spiritual Chemotherapy given so freely by my sister Survivors each week. We share our experience, we laugh, we cry and we are there for each other. I am so blessed, we all are, by the existance of The Wellness Community.
April 2008, just 3 days after I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, my husband and I walked through the doors of The Wellness Community, Valley/Ventura (TWCVV). How was I going to tell my family, my friends, my two small children? I knew I wanted answeres, but only from someone I knew could relate "first hand" to what I was going through. I knew the fight for my life was just begginning. "Fear" was a fight all in itself. TWCVV was somewhere I could go to share how I was feeling and get insight, advice, and knowledge from others that already traveled the road I was just begginning. So with my new found strength and unexpected friendships I was able to take charge of my fears and begin my jouney. Every Wednesday night when I walk through those doors to meet with the gang (support group), I feel an instant and overwhelming sense of comfort and relief. I feel safe. There I can speak freely of my fears and concerns and not be judged. Living with cancer is not only physically and emotionally depleating, but financially depleating as well. The center offers not only support groups, but other activities such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Watercolor, Guided Imagery, Expressive Writing, and many others, all at no charge to the participants. Medical and Surgical Oncologists, Reconstructive Surgeons, Nutritionists, Acupuncturists and Stress reduction Specialists are just a few of the very informative speakers they have invited to speak to participants. And because laughter sometimes really is the best medicine, my family and I have had the pleasure of attending "Comedy Night", the second Monday of every month. TWCVV assists with all that is jeopardized with a cancer diagnosis, the Body, Mind and Spirit.
My daughter Nancy and I joined The Wellness Community Valley Ventura a few months after Nancy was diagnosed with Metestatic Brest Cancer to the bone. We had to learn how to deal with the "New Normal" since our lives would never be the same again. Nancy used to say going into TWC was like coming home, it was comfortable and made you feel good, also when dealing with cancer you don't want to thik about paying $15.00 for a Yoga Class, every thing at TWC is free of charge. Wednesday was Nancy's favorite night,it was when we went to our group meetings. Sshe wished that there were weeks where every night was a Wednesday and for her birthday her group made her a calander of a year of all Wednesdays. Though Nancy is no longer with us I still attend my Wednesday night meetings. It is where every one understands what we are going through and where I feel at home. I am involved as a board member and am happy to help in any way I can as this is a wonderful organization.
I have been a member of the The Wellness Community Valley Ventura Board of Directors for 9 years. I have seen the positive effects of TWC on many participants and heard their remarks. I have never seen or heard a negative comment. Once cancer enters someones life entering the wellness community provides education, laughs, hope and support for not only the patient but also the patients friends and families. I am always proud to tell people of my involvement with this wonderful organization
Outstanding organization, defined by its caring professionals and volunteers. Willing to try new events and programs that benefit cancer survivors, their care-givers and family.
The Wellness Community (TWCVV) does incredible work for people with cancer and their loved ones. I have been volunteering my time for ten years. When you are diagnosed with cancer, it hits you and your family like a ton of bricks. If you have cancer, it's hard for people who don't have cancer to relate to you no matter how hard they try, or for you to relate to them. If your loved one has cancer, you don't know what to say to them, and they can't really relate to what you're going through either. That's why support groups of people with cancer, and separate groups of families of those with cancer, can work so well under the guidance of TWCVV's licensed facilitators. The participants who have benefited from the programs are adamant about how much TWCVV has helped them in their fight against cancer. What people often say surprises them at first is all the laughter that happens in support groups. There are tears as well, but a lot of fun. People with cancer also have been virtually unanimous in their belief that they have it easier than their family, so the support group for family members is very important. I urge anyone who knows anyone who has cancer, or their loved ones, to refer them to TWCVV. I also urge those who are able to support the organization to donate to TWCVV generously. As with all non-profits, these are difficult times, but cancer hits in both good and bad economic times.
The Wellness Community Valley Ventura, Inc. provides more than free services for people with cancer and their families - they provide a safe and inviting place for those dealing with life-threatening and frightening real-life with others who are in the same place. You may think you know how someone with cancer feels, but until you actually hear the words "you have cancer" - you can't really understand. Other survivors do understand and support one another with concern, compassion and understanding. This agency does an amazing job helping families cope...in a warm, inviting, positive atmosphere. TWC-VV cares - everyone who works or volunteers there has an attitude of compassion and caring. The facility is warm and inviting and constantly striving to provide more for those who attend the groups and programs.....the positive attitude starts from the top - Suzanne and Marty lead the way with their competence and grace. I can't think of a better place to be at a horrible, frightening time. Kudos TWC-V