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    • Recognizing Disparities Among Women Facing Breast Cancer

      By Rachel Koonse, LMFT and Miranda Johnson October 22, 2020 The month of October marks an international monthly campaign to raise awareness around breast cancer. In recognition of this awareness month, this blog post will focus on the impact that cancer disparities have on communities of color and particularly on women facing breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer diagnoses, with 1 in 8 women getting a diagnosis within their lifetime. Due to tremendous advances in treatment and diagnosis, the five year survival rate for breast cancer (including all stages and subtypes) is 90%. It is encouraging to know that this diagnosis continues to receive the awareness that it deserves, and that these advancements have resulted in positive change in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer. In any discussion of cancer, it is important to acknowledge the impact of cancer health disparities. Cancer disparities occur when “certain groups … bear a disproportionate burden of cancer compared with other groups.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines these disparities as “differences in cancer measures such as incidence (new cases), prevalence (all existing cases), mortality (deaths), morbidity (cancer-related health complications), survivorship, including quality of life after cancer treatment, burden of cancer or related health conditions, screening rates, and stage at diagnosis.” In looking at breast cancer prevalence, white women have the highest incidence rates at 13%. However, looking deeper at breast cancer statistics reveals unnerving disparities. For example, a recent study found that black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Latina women were diagnosed with later stage cancers compared to their white counterparts. This is of particular importance when considering the fact that survival rates decrease with later stage diagnoses. The study also found that women of color are two to four times more likely to have no insurance compared to white women. Perhaps the most concerning statistic of all: mortality rates are 40% higher among black women versus white women. An article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information titled “Assessing the Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality in the United States” attributes “this high mortality rate … to lack of medical coverage, barriers to early detection and screening, more advanced stage of disease at diagnosis among minorities, and unequal access to improvements in cancer treatment.” Cancer health disparities intersect with so many other inequitable aspects of living in our society, including educational, housing, and income disparities, among others. As such, advocating within your community for more equitable access to education, housing, mental health services, and other necessary resources is a piece of addressing health disparities. Cancer Support Community also has a Cancer Policy Institute that “ensure[s] that the voices of cancer patients and their loved ones play a central role in federal and state legislative, regulatory, and executive policy making.” You can become involved in the CPI’s Grassroots Network by clicking here. You might also consider supporting the following organizations that help to increase research and awareness around health disparities, and push for policy change: American Hospital Association, Center for Health Equity Research & Promotion Collaborations, FamiliesUSA, National Quality Forum, Prevention Institute, The Cross Cultural Health Care Program, and The Urban Institute. Here at Cancer Support Community Pasadena, we are committed to supporting everyone who is affected by the very real and painful impacts of cancer health disparities. Whether you are facing cancer yourself or are a survivor or a loved one of someone with cancer, we invite you to fill out a New Member Form and begin the process of learning more about the different programming that we offer here. Within this virtual world, we are able to provide a space for you where you can talk about the impact that cancer has had upon your life. You also have the opportunity to be surrounded by other people in our community that provide solidarity and understanding. Works Cited Cancer Disparities, National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from cancer/understanding/disparities. Davis, E. (2020, January 9). Racial Disparities Possible in Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from Miller June 02, K., & =, =. (2020, June 02). Why People of Privilege Need to Fight Hardest for Health Equity. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from Roy, MD, MPH, L. (2020, October 14). Black Women And Breast Cancer: Mary J. Blige EmPOWERs Survival. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from Yedjou, C., Tchounwou, P., Payton, M., Miele, L., Fonseca, D., Lowe, L., and Alo, R. (2017, May 5). Assessing the Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality in the United States. Retrieved from

    • A Pasadena Local who Became a Legend

      By Rachel Koonse, LMFT, Program Director October 7, 2020 When Eddie Van Halen’s family moved from the Netherlands to Pasadena, CA in 1962, Eddie couldn’t speak English. Living in a new place where the extent of his family’s possessions were “$50 and a piano,” Eddie began playing piano and demonstrated precocious talent. Eddie and his brother, Alex, dove headfirst into their musical studies and picked up the guitar and drums, respectively. By the fourth grade, they founded their first band, The Broken Combs, and they performed during lunch at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena. Fast forward several years and countless shows at local bars and clubs, Van Halen garnered a significant fan base in Southern California. In 1977, the Van Halen brothers and David Lee Roth (another Pasadena local) scored a record deal with Warner Brothers. Following the debut of their first album, Van Halen, Eddie became a giant in the music world. The band went on to sell 80 million albums worldwide. Four of their studio albums reached US No. 1 and Van Halen was voted greatest guitarist of all time in a Guitar World magazine reader poll. Eddie was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2001, and later needed to have part of his tongue surgically removed. He kept his diagnosis private and waited until 2011 to publicly share his diagnosis on his website. This first diagnosis was successfully treated, but Eddie was unfortunately diagnosed with throat cancer a few years later. Despite these devastating diagnoses, Eddie continued to have a lucrative career and meaningful relationships with his family for several years. Notably, he fostered his son, Wolfie’s, love for music, and Wolfie went on to become a bassist and played professionally with his dad. After 10 years of living with throat cancer, Eddie Van Halen died in the arms of his family on October 6, 2020. In addition to his legendary status in the musical world, Eddie Van Halen also leaves behind a legacy of dignity amidst chronic illness. He remained an involved father and family man and continued his life’s work as a musician, leaving an indelible mark on music history. To quote Van Halen, the cancer experience “can be a very unique and private matter to deal with.” To that end, CSCP prioritizes member privacy, knowing that our groups, classes, and workshops are safe because they remain confidential. Van Halen had an incredible support system of friends and family, and lived his days fully until his last. CSCP strives to be a piece of each member’s support system, and takes a page from Eddie’s book in fostering an environment that encourages all of us to live our lives humbly and fully. Works Cited 2020. Eddie Van Halen. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2020]. Miller, K., 2020. Eddie Van Halen Thought His Tongue Cancer Was Caused From Putting Guitar Picks In His Mouth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2020]. Sweeting, A., 2020. Eddie Van Halen Obituary. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 7 October 2020].

    • The Impact of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life on the Cancer Community

      By Rachel Koonse, LMFT and Miranda Johnson September 21, 2020 This past Friday, September 18, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. The “Notorious RBG” – as she came to be affectionately known – was a bold revolutionary. The second woman to sit on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was a strong advocate for gender equality. Over the course of her 27 years as a Justice, she delivered “some of the Supreme Court’s most influential majority opinions” (Blakemore, 2020). Ginsburg was also one of only 9 women in a class of 500 students studying law at Harvard University. Despite an impeccable professional and academic record, Ginsburg faced barriers towards gaining employment as a woman in a male-dominated field. By 1970, Ginsburg founded The Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the U.S. focusing on gender equality issues, and became the first woman to receive tenure as a professor at Columbia University Law School. She went on to create the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, served on the national board of the ACLU, and argued several cases of sex discrimination before the Supreme Court. Ginsburg served for 13 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals before being appointed to the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton in 1993. Throughout her career, she argued for equal citizenship status for men and women, propelled university admission rights for women, fought for rights for women with disabilities, argued against wage discrimination, and supported LGBTQ rights. Ginsburg was impacted by cancer several times throughout her life. Before Ruth Bader graduated from high school, her mother – Celia Bader – died of cancer. While studying at Harvard Law School along with her husband, Marty Ginsburg, Ruth and Marty both learned that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Ruth was Marty’s caregiver as he underwent surgeries and radiation. In a 1993 interview with NPR, Marty said, “So that left Ruth with a 3-year-old child, a fairly sick husband, the law review, classes to attend and feeding me” (Totenberg, 2020). Ginsburg herself was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. In 2009, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In 2018, she received the news that she had lung cancer. And in 2019, she was diagnosed with a metastatic recurrence of pancreatic cancer. As an organization that provides social and emotional support to people who are impacted by cancer, CSCP finds the toll that cancer had on Ginsburg’s life and on her family to be a sobering reminder of the ever-present need for support when facing a cancer diagnosis. In spite of the profound impact that it had on her and her family, Ginsburg did not allow her cancer experience to define the totality of her life. RBG famously said, “Justice O’Connor told me, ‘Now you do the chemotherapy on Friday because you’ll get over it during the weekend and you can be back in court on Monday.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work was her life’s meaning. In a similar way, CSCP can provide hope, purpose, and meaning amidst a cancer diagnosis. In our support groups, classes, and workshops, our members can be candid about their cancer experience, while also forging ahead towards new horizons, just as RBG did. Works Cited Blakemore, Erin. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice Since 1993, Dies at 87,” uploaded by, 18 Sept. 2020, Kinstler, Everett Raymond. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 1996. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biography- Academy of Achievement. (September 18, 2020). Retrieved September 21, 2020 from Totenberg, Nina. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of Gender Equality, Dies at 87,” uploaded by NPR, 18 Sept. 2020,

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    • CSCP | Contact

      Contact Get in Touch 76 East Del Mar Blvd, Suite 215 Pasadena, CA 91105 626-796-1083 | Send Thanks for contacting CSCP! ADMINISTRATIVE HOURS MONDAY - THURSDAY 8:30AM - 7:00PM 76 E. Del Mar Blvd., Suite 215, P asadena, CA 91105 We are located in the Pasadena Humane Society’s building, on the second floor, at the corner of Del Mar Blvd. and Raymond Ave. ​ PARKING Parking is available under the building – the parking entrance is off Raymond Avenue just south of Del Mar. Once you have parked, take the north (green) elevator to the second floor. (626)796-1083 Patricia Ostiller x704 Executive Director Rachel Koonse x702 Program Director Judith Hamilton-Marquez x709 Development Manager Julie Stevens x708 Operations Manager ​ Kim Ferreira x707 Events Manager Miranda Johnson x706 Office Manager

    • CSCP | Free Cancer Support in Pasadena

      Support, education, and hope... for people with cancer and their loved ones Getting Started Designed specifically for people with cancer Referring Partners So that no one faces cancer alone Volunteer at CSCP Virtual Program Calendar Groups, Classes and Workshops Give Today for Hope Tomorrow Find out about our 30th Anniversary Board-designated campaign Support our Mission Donate to our work Show More "I consider Cancer Support Community Pasadena to be the biggest blessing in my life when I got my cancer diagnosis." CSCP Member Our Mission Our Goal, Vision & Commitment Our Calendar CSCP's Programs Give Find Ways To Give

    • CSCP | Board

      Board of Directors

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76 East Del Mar Blvd, Suite 215 Pasadena, CA 91105


Phone: 626-796-1083

EIN: 95-4201985

Cancer Support Helpline: 888-793-9355

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