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Cancer Support Community Program Director Retires, Successor Chosen

After 13 years with Cancer Support Community Pasadena (“CSCP”), Program Director Laura Wending is retiring at the end of July 2020. Throughout her career, Laura has been instrumental in increasing the number of people CSCP is serving to record levels. During her tenure, she worked diligently to bring support, education, and hope to families facing cancer, practically doubling the number of people served at CSCP’s facility. Laura was also instrumental in developing partnerships with local area hospitals, including City of Hope, where CSCP continues to offer offsite support groups for cancer patients. She is also responsible for growing CSCP’s Professional Advisory Network, comprised of medical experts in the community, who provide educational workshops for CSCP’s members.


Rachel Koonse, M.A., LMFT, who interned with CSCP from 2014 – 2016 and also worked at CSCP from 2017 – 2019, has been chosen as Laura’s successor, to the delight of staff, group facilitators and CSCP members.


“Never one to seek attention, Laura’s deeds are perhaps best known in the letters she has received from CSCP members over the past 13 years. Most memorable are the letters from participants who credit Laura with ‘saving their lives’, by providing them with much needed support and hope as they face cancer. Laura’s compassion for every person who walks through our doors is genuine and remarkable. We’re going to miss her,” says Patricia Ostiller, CSCP’s Executive Director.


“Laura has long been a champion for families in our community who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. She greets every person who walks through our doors as if she had been waiting for them, eager to help them as they face this devastating diagnosis,” says Kal Antoun, President of CSCP’s Board of Directors. 


“My thirteen years with CSCP in various capacities has been the most meaningful and rewarding work in my career,” says Laura. “Supporting our members has brought me great joy, and the staff, colleagues, and volunteers at CSCP have become my friends. I will miss them all dearly.”


“I’m honored and humbled to be succeeding Laura,” remarks Rachel. “I’ve had the privilege of working alongside Laura over the years and have firsthand knowledge of what the position requires. It has always been my desire and passion to return to CSCP to continue Laura’s good work and to enhance program delivery for our members.”


“How do you replace Laura? We knew choosing Laura’s successor was not going to be easy, but Rachel just rose to the top of our list. Her diverse clinical experiences, tremendous leadership skills, and most importantly perhaps, the respect she has already earned with group facilitators and members, made her our first choice. And, happily, our selection was in accordance with Laura’s hope to see Rachel succeed her,” says Patricia.


“Rachel will hit the ground running,” says Laura. “Having interned and worked at CSCP, Rachel knows our culture and loves our members. She is articulate, a wonderful ambassador for our work, a creative thinker, and I’m confident that she will continue to propel CSCP’s program delivery to new heights.”


Going forward, Laura will serve in an advisory role to CSCP. She will soon be relocating to San Diego County to be closer to her children and grandchildren. An event will be held later this year to celebrate Laura’s 13-year career and welcome Rachel’s return.

In the meantime, Rachel's first day with us will be Monday, July 27th. We also offer our sincere thanks to Jill Searle for stepping in to assist CSCP for the past two months. Jill's dedicated and selfless work has been critical to the continued success of our program delivery. Thank you, Jill!

Cancer Support Community Pasadena’s Virtual Gala Festivities

In less than three weeks is Cancer Support Community Pasadena’s first virtual gala, with excitement building among supporters, staff and volunteers, according to the organization. This year, CSCP is celebrating 30 years of providing support, education and hope to families facing cancer in the Greater San Gabriel Valley. “A Night in Emerald City” 30th anniversary gala will be on Saturday, July 11.

Since its founding in 1990, CSCP has served more than 21,000 women, men and children. These individuals have made more than 200,000 visits to CSCP’s free programs, with CSCP providing 292,000-plus service hours, including support groups and educational workshops.

“Our team knew it was important to move forward and raise awareness and critical funds for the people we serve who are facing cancer,” said Patricia Ostiller, CSCP’s executive director. “And while a virtual gala is new territory for us and other nonprofits in town, we’re pretty excited about what we have in store for the community on July 11.”

Co-chairs Ellen Driscoll, Sandy Kobeissi and Bill Ukropina will kick off the event. Viewers will be treated to special guest appearances and other entertainment. CSCP will also be celebrating five honorees at this anniversary gala: individual honorees Rosemari Annear and Charlotte Streng (and her late husband, Dr. Joel Streng); corporate honorees Bistro 45/Deborah and Robert Simon and Sharp Seating/Sindee and Steve Riboli; and health-care honoree City of Hope/Dr. Steve Rosen.

“We’re already seeing our supporters rise to the occasion to help,” said Kim Ferreira, CSCP’s events manager. “Our board members, committee volunteers, families and friends are already forming ‘virtual tables’ and inviting others in their network to join in the fun beginning July 8, with our gala livestreaming on July 11 at 7 p.m.”

CSCP also recognizes the following honorary chairpersons for their steadfast support of CSCP, many of whom have supported Cancer Support Community Pasadena (formerly the Wellness Community) since its inception: Liz Rusnak Arizmendi, Anne and Peter Kennedy, Alice and Loren Brodhead, Suzanne and Brian Gilman, Ellen and Harvey Knell, Conchita and Jim O’Kane, Rary Simmons, and Robin and Ben Stafford.

See the article in Outlook Newspapers

Glass Buildings
Antoun Will Lead Cancer Support Community Board of Directors

The Cancer Support Community Pasadena Board of Directors has elected city native Kalmoune “Kal” Balian Antoun, a John Muir High School and Cal State Northridge graduate, as its new president. “CSCP is near and dear to me, as cancer is no stranger to my family. I know firsthand that ‘it takes a village’ to cope with cancer,” Antoun said. “My involvement with CSCP started 10 years ago with the launch of our first Ladies Night Out at the Ice House. It was there and then that I knew where my commitment and passion would reside.”

Antoun has served as chair of CSCP’s volunteer guild for the past four years. She has chaired the organization’s annual Ladies Night Out fundraiser and its Angel Gala several times.

No stranger to philanthropy, Antoun also chairs the Arcadia Association of Realtors Events for Charity and participates on the board of the Pasadena Foothills Association of Realtors Charitable Foundation. She served in leadership capacities on the parent boards of Mayfield Junior School, St. Francis High School and Loyola High School. She also served on the Pasadena National Charity League board and is a past member of the Huntington Circle.

“We’re excited for what the future holds for CSCP under Kal’s leadership. Her experience and skill set, coupled with her driving commitment to serve others, will position CSCP to serve families facing cancer during these uncertain times and into the future,” said CSCP Executive Director Patricia Ostiller.

“I am deeply honored to be elected as the new board president and look forward to working with my board colleagues to move CSCP’s mission forward,” Antoun said.

Antoun is a mortgage broker with C2 Financial and is a part of the TG Mortgage team in Pasadena. She and her husband, Roy, live in Altadena. They have three grown children ― Matthew, Adam and Sara —along with the newest member of their family, Christina, Matthew’s wife.
Cancer Support Community Pasadena provides free support groups, educational workshops and healthy lifestyle classes to cancer patients and their families. For information on its online offerings,

See the article in Outlook Newspapers

CSCP's Board of Directors Chooses New Executive Director

A letter from CSCP's former Executive Director, Meg Symes:

Dear wonderful amazing friends and generous supporters of CSCP,


Being a part of this amazing CSCP community as a volunteer, staff member and participant member over these past 10 years has been beyond wonderful for me, and now I have great news to share with you! 


After a four-month executive search, the CSCP Board of Directors has chosen Patricia V. Ostiller, JD, CFRE to serve as the organization’s new Executive Director. A graduate of Northwestern University and Loyola Law School, Patricia has served as CSCP’s Director of Development since 2015. Since that time, I have had the joy of working with her.


During my tenure as Executive Director over the past three years, Patricia and I have worked closely to ensure the steady growth of this wonderful organization that we both love. I have witnessed firsthand her commitment to our members and our mission, her tireless work ethic, her valuable skill sets, and her genuine compassion and grace.


We share a passion for helping families in our community who are facing cancer. I am so happy for Patricia and CSCP, and I’m confident that with your continued support, Patricia will lead CSCP to new heights for families facing cancer.


Please join me in extending congratulations to Patricia, my friend and colleague.


And enormous thanks to both Patricia and Laura Wending, our Program Director, who stepped in as Co-Executive Directors during my medical leave.  CSCP has never skipped a beat through this transition!





P.S. Before retiring in June 2020, I will assist Patricia with leadership succession and also help with the planning of CSCP’s 30th anniversary Gala on May 2, 2020 to be held at The Langham in Pasadena. We hope to see you there!!!!  Gala planning is full steam ahead!  🥰

Young Adults Get Warmth, Care at Cancer Support Community

When 33-year-old Jennifer O’Mahony was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer a year ago, it wasn’t so much a life interrupted. It was a life under siege.

Four years married and in the upswing of a hard-fought career in fashion design, the Oklahoma native and her husband, Ryan, had moved from the bustling Hollywood neighborhood to settle down in Pasadena. They planned to have a family soon, and a dog, maybe sooner. They were prudent, renting first, before plunging into the crazy real estate market. They priced homes in Altadena.

And then O’Mahony had a grand mal seizure one night while watching TV with Ryan by her side, and lost consciousness.

“It came out of nowhere … they took me to Huntington Hospital ER where they started running every test under the sun,” she recalled.    Continue reading full article