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600 guests ‘Celebrate Wellness’ at Cancer Support fundraiser

Cancer Support Community South Bay hosts its largest fundraiser yet, raising $428,000.


Guido Rietdyk proclaimed it from the podium on Sunday evening. It was the most attended Celebrate Wellness event ever, said the former board president of Cancer Support Community South Bay.

About 600 people gathered on the greens of South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the fundraiser which allows those fighting cancer and their families to attend support sessions free of charge.

And the fundraising figures proved it. According to CSCSB spokesperson Theresa Plakos, it was the most successful Celebrate Wellness event ever produced by the nonprofit, raising $428,000.

Guests were treated to small bites from various food vendors, beverages from wineries, breweries and even latte vendors. And people placed their bids on hundreds of silent auction items.

In between live auction items such as a Montana getaway, dinner for 10 at The Strand House and a Goodyear Blimp ride, CSCSB honored dedicated volunteers.

Rietdyk introduced the crowd to Kyle and Diane Kazan, who were CSCSB’s 2023 Honorees, along with service award recipients Stephen Lottenberg and Ruth Schriebman.

After Diane Kazan shared her experience of finding a cancerous lump while breast feeding, husband Kyle recalled that was also a Sunday night a couple decades ago.

“That Sunday night was like any other night,” Kyle Kazan said. Until the following day, Monday, when everything changed.

Just imagine, Kyle said, if you were to hear the words tomorrow “You have cancer.”

Those three words, he said, changed everything and brought about a “storm of life.” For the Kazans, the programs they attended at CSCSB were like a safe harbor, while insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and others all wanted money. The CSC programs, however, were free.

“All of a sudden,” said Kyle, “It felt like the storm was outside and I was in this tent (of CSCSB).”

And, Kyle added, he hoped noone would ever have to hear “you have cancer.”

But, it’s probably inevitable, he said. And when they did, he pointed to the people inside the giant outdoor tent at the South Coast Botanic Garden and said that’s exactly where one would find support.

Read More at DailyBreeze.com

Family ‘Celebrates Wellness’ as patriarch says cancer battle changed his life forever

Kyle Kazan, speaker at the Oct. 22 Cancer Support Community South Bay event, lives life with a constant ‘attitude of gratitude.’


Diane Kazan was breastfeeding her 6-month-old son when she found the lump.

It could’ve been a clogged milk duct, but she rubbed the spot and it didn’t dissolve.

Her doctor sent her to get a mammogram, something she’d felt too young to have get done at 37 years old. That led to a biopsy in which the radiologist noticed jagged edges.

She was glad that she atypically asked her husband to come with her to the appointment to get the results. It was Dec. 11, 2000, and Diane Kazan had just found out she had breast cancer.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said, “My fear was that I was gonna die; I cried for three days.”

Her husband, Kyle Kazan, said that he still remembers the shock of the diagnosis more than 20 years later.

“There’s just no way to prepare for those three words ‘you have cancer,’” Kyle Kazan said.

The former special education teacher and Torrance police officer recalled his wife’s first words after hearing the news: “I don’t want to die; I want to watch my son grow.”

Kyle Kazan for those first three days after the diagnosis was taking all the notes and asking all the questions, he said, as his wife “was blurry, not my usual Diane.”

The 4.5-centimeter tumor found was considered huge, Diane Kazan said, and doctors assumed it had already spread to her brain. She started aggressive chemotherapy treatments after getting several different opinions.

Among those recommendations were the Cancer Support Community South Bay.

Diane joined a breast cancer support group at the organization, while Kyle joined a caregiver group.

“I came out invigorated, as did she, although we were going through something different,” Kyle Kazan said.

It was an intimate space, too.

“If you don’t have the family support, people will come pick you up, go with you to chemo,” he said. “There’s a sisterhood in that breast cancer room.”

Once meetings were over, they’d hang out with other participants, laughing and living their normal lives.

Read More at DailyBreeze.com




Kyle and Diane Kazan: A Journey of Resilience and Giving


In 1970, the Kazan family made a life-altering decision to move to the picturesque Palos Verdes Peninsula, fondly referred to as “the Hill.” This choice would go on to shape their lives in ways they could have never imagined. For Kyle and Diane Kazan, the Peninsula became the backdrop of a story marked by strength, community, and a deep commitment to giving back.

Kyle reflects on those early days with a sense of gratitude, “Growing up in this environment was an excellent experience,” he reminisces. The Peninsula offered an exceptional education, the rejuvenating embrace of the fresh ocean air, and an unparalleled sense of safety. As a result, when Diane suggested relocating from a house they had purchased in Redondo Beach to Palos Verdes in 1997, Kyle needed no convincing. He knew it was the ideal place to raise a family.

Diane attended Carson HIgh, while Kyle attended Palos Verdes High School. The PVHS tradtion continued with their oldest son, Keoni, becoming a proud Sea King. “Whichever high school Ikaika selects would make me proud because both have placed academic excellence as the top priority,” Kyle says, acknowledging the educational advantages of the Peninsula.

Their journey with the Cancer Support Community (CSC) South Bay began in 2000, in the midst of life’s unexpected twists. Diane’s breast cancer diagnosis that year was a life-altering moment. As Diane recollects, “When I was diagnosed with cancer on December 11th of 2000, I was in my 30’s with a 6-month-old baby. In other words, I was not prepared, nor was I thinking in any way of hearing someone say, ‘you have cancer!’” Her cancer diagnosis, like for many, was an abrupt stop to her plans and dreams.

However, amidst the turmoil, their lives intersected with CSC South Bay.

Read More at PalosVerdesMagazine.com

Cancer Support Community South Bay gets two new leaders

The Cancer Support Community South Bay has a couple of new leaders.

Jillian Van Leuven is the nonprofit’s new executive director and CEO, and Kelli Vieweg is the new president of the board of directors, CSC announced recently.

The organization offers more than 200 free support programs monthly for cancer patients and their families, as part of a global network of 170 other locations.

Van Leuven succeeds Jackie Suiter, who took on the role on an interim basis after former CEO Joey Shanahan left the position earlier this year. Suiter will continue to serve as CSC South Bay’s director of development.

In other recent changes, last year, CSCSB was renamed from CSC Redondo Beach and relocated to Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance after 34 years on the Redondo Beach Pier.

Van Leuven, meanwhile, has more than two decades of experience working in the nonprofit sector, most recently as executive director of Merci, a Los Angeles nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities. There, she’s helped grow the organization by creating new services, mentoring and developing staffers, and fostering robust connections with stakeholders.

Change Is Good

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.

Read More at Southbay.goldenstate.is

Long Beach breast cancer survivor to ‘celebrate wellness’ with Cancer Support Community South Bay

Long Beach resident Maggie Gallo has a story to tell — about surviving breast cancer.

And the 46-year-old breast cancer survivor is going to do so next month during the Cancer Support Community South Bay’s 25th annual Celebrate Wellness event on July 10. The nonprofit — which offers workshops, support groups and other help to those with cancer — will also celebrate its 35th anniversary during the event.

Gallo’s story centers on how long it took her to find out why she felt she was in ill health — nearly three years.

Gallo had complained to her doctors since December 2017 that she felt something was wrong. But results from a mammogram and ultrasound in early 2018, she said, came back normal.

Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach gets new name, location in February


By Michael Hixon | The Beach Reporter

Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a new name and, this month, a new location.

The nonprofit — which offers more than 200 support programs each month and other free services for those impacted by cancer — announced on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that it has officially changed its name to Cancer Support Community South Bay, underscoring its growing ambitions. The newly dubbed CSCSB will also leave Redondo Beach and head to Torrance, moving to a facility in the Rolling Hills Plaza that is 1,300 square feet larger than its current digs, said Executive Director and CEO Joey Shanahan.

The organization, Shanahan said, outgrew its spot on the Redondo Beach Pier, where it had been since its inception, and will move out officially on Feb. 4.

CSCSB — part of a global network of 170 other locations — will also change its logo and web address; its url is now CSCSouthBay.org.

“CSC South Bay is making a substantial investment in the future of the organization,” Shanahan said, “by building an infrastructure to support expanding both in-person and virtual services.”

The new 5,600-square-foot location, 2601 Airport Drive, Suite 100, will allow them to expand, Shanahan said, with new programming, simultaneous support groups and a bigger staff.

And to answer a common request from the cancer community — what to cook and eat during active cancer treatment — the new space will include a demonstration kitchen and classroom space for up to 50 participants.

After two years of offering their services online during the coronavirus pandemic, Shanahan said, the nonprofit is now ready to go beyond virtual sessions — and continue growing.

Read More at dailybreeze.com

Why a Redondo Beach man is sharing his story of surviving breast cancer

By Kristy Hutchings, Contributing writer

It began as a dull ache.

Nilton Fonseca’s right breast began hurting in summer 2019. But rather than rush to the doctor, the Redondo Beach resident, now 54 years old, decided to treat the on-and-off aches in his chest with the occasional pain reliever or hot compress.

Fonseca’s home remedies worked for a time.

But in November, intense chest tightness hit three weekends in a row, seemingly resistant to his self-care methods. Fonseca could no longer ignore it.

He feared it was a heart attack.

A trip to urgent care dispelled that concern.

A series of tests followed in the months ahead, spurred by a lump the urgent care doctor discovered. It wasn’t until April 2020 that he received a diagnosis:

Fonseca had breast cancer.

“I was just floored,” Fonseca said. “Why me? That was the first thought that came to my mind.”

He had reason to be floored. Breast cancer in men is rare.

In the United States, about one of every 100 breast cancers are diagnosed in men. Women, however, face a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetimes — and breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women, according to the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year alone, the ACS estimates, around 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women — and that around 43,600 will die from the disease.

Breast cancer, no matter who develops it, is a serious and potentially deadly illness that has life-altering impacts.

Read More at dailybreeze.com

The Artist’s Way’ guided Hermosa Beach woman’s coaching of cancer patients

Karen Sidney discovered her life’s calling through the sometimes unlikely twists of a second-choice college major in business, a gift in training others — and in the storms of life, a miscarriage in her mid-40s and a shattering diagnosis of breast cancer four years ago.
Today, Sidney, of Hermosa Beach, has used all of that in a free program for other cancer survivors based on Julia Cameron’s best-selling workbook, “The Artist’s Way.”
Born in Burbank and raised in Orange County, Sidney attended USC and moved to the South Bay beach cities of Manhattan and Hermosa, following her then-boyfriend and husband-to-be, Mike. She wound up majoring in business in college after realizing her first choice, education, came against the backdrop of teachers being “laid off, right and left.”
Major in business, she was told, and you could do most anything.
She went into sales and marketing for Xerox Corp., and in her mid-20s, went to Coldwell Banker to train brokers in commercial real estate all over the country.
A turning point came later, when she became pregnant after she and her husband had tried for years to have children. It ended in a miscarriage at 44.
“I was trying to understand why this happened to me,” she said.
She spotted a flier for an “Artist’s Way” meeting at her church, the Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living, and thought: “That’s got my name on it.”
That was in 2002.

Read More at  dailybreeze.com

Former Raytheon manager to head Cancer Support SB

Deborah Patrick has been named the new president of the board of directors of  Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach. CSCRB offers more than 200 free support programs each month for cancer patients and their families.

Patrick is a retired Raytheon engineering manager. She became active in CSCRB in 2013 when her husband was diagnosed with an aggressive esophageal cancer. While participating in CSCRB’s caregiver group to support him, her sister and stepmother were diagnosed with breast cancer. Her husband succumbed to his disease in 2014, and shortly afterwards she faced her own battle with breast cancer. Over a two-year period, CSCRB provided four different support services for her—a caregiver group, bereavement group, individual counseling and a newly diagnosed breast cancer support group. Since the successful treatment for her cancer, Patrick has become a champion for the organization by sponsoring and speaking at CSCRB’s fundraising events and joining the board in 2016.

Read More at EasyReaderNews.com