We’ve heard the saying many times before, that everybody knows somebody who has cancer—or had cancer in the past. This week’s edition is filled with stories about local lives touched by the merciless killer.
The disease in its many forms continues to take the lives of almost 600,000 people in the United States each year. The most common forms are breast, lung, prostate, colon, bladder, skin, thyroid, kidney, blood and pancreatic.
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. (exceeded only by heart disease), and while advances in prevention and treatment are saving more lives and helping patients to cope, it is still a disease that has no cure.
There’s another saying, albeit a rough one: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. When it comes to cancer, those who survive the disease are known to be some of the most amazing people in the world. To know them and to listen to their stories warms the heart and gives cause for hope.
On May 5, more than 450 cancer patients, survivors, friends, family members and supporters gathered at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley for the annual Cancer Support Community Wings of Hope fundraising gala.
There was a lot to celebrate. Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara serves about 3,000 adults, teens and children with many programs geared to patients and their loved ones, who suffer too.
“Once cancer has entered someone’s life, they feel lost and alone, not knowing where to go,” says David Wank, chair of the Cancer Support board. “Though family and friends try to help, they often do not have the knowledge, professional training and experience it takes to help. Having Cancer Support as a free resource during those times brings hope . . . so no one needs to face cancer alone.”
Wank’s father died from bladder cancer in 2000, but not before receiving help from the Wellness Community, as Cancer Support used to be known. Wank has since given tirelessly to the organization, and last Friday he and his wife, Tami, were recognized with the group’s Celebration of Philanthropy Award.
The programs come at no cost to recipients, but that doesn’t mean they are free. Philanthropists like Wank—and the hundreds of other supporters at last week’s gala who donated their hard-earned dollars—help pay for the organization’s operating expenses in order to keep its mission alive. To donate, go to www.cancersupportvvsb.org.
Another way to get involved in the fight against cancer? Consider taking part in next weekend’s Conejo Valley Relay For Life. There’s still time to sign up (see related story on page 38). The mother of all local relays, the 24-hour event is a chance for people of all ages to play a small role in finding a cure for this awful disease.
The fight against cancer is far from over, but thanks to places like Cancer Support Community and events like Relay For Life, we can contribute our resources to helping to find a cure.