Cancer Support Community South Bay’s Joey Shanahan Knew There Was Only One Way to Keep Supporting Participants During the Pandemic. CSC Was Going to Have to Evolve.

  • Written by

    Amber Klinck

  • Photographed by

    Shane O’Donnell

It was early 2020 when Joey Shanahan took on the role of executive director for Cancer Support Community (CSC) South Bay. Originally known as The Wellness Community, the organization was founded in 1982 by Harold Benjamin in Santa Monica. In 1987, The Wellness Community-South Bay Cities opened its doors and then became Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach. 

Today the nonprofit is known as CSC South Bay to better reflect the broader community it serves. There are 175 CSC locations worldwide. 

For 34 years, CSC South Bay has provided free support services to cancer patients and their families from their location on the Redondo Beach Pier. 2022 marks CSC South Bay’s 35th anniversary, as well as the opening of its new location in the Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance. 

The model for CSC services was in-person, peer-to-peer support. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit—only two months after Joey joined the organization—the team at CSC South Bay had to change the way they were connecting with their community … and fast. 

“To even wrap our heads around how to move to a virtual world was pretty overwhelming,” she notes. “But we did it really quickly.” 

Within two weeks, all of CSC’s support groups were available on Zoom. Providing 200 support programs per month was a massive achievement and an invaluable resource for participants navigating cancer with the added uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. “Now sometimes when I look back, I’m kind of amazed at what a great job we were able to do,” she says.