Cancer Support Community

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The Cancer Support Community (CSC) is an organization whose mission is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community.[1] CSC focuses on three areas of support: direct service delivery, research, and advocacy.

The organization includes an international network of Affiliates[2] that offer social and emotional support for people impacted by cancer, as well as a community of support available online and over the phone. Its Research and Training Institute[3] conducts psychosocial, behavioral and survivorship research. CSC furthers its focus on patient advocacy through the Cancer Policy Institute,[4] informing public policy in Washington D.C. and across the nation.

Individual gifts, corporate and foundation contributions, and educational grants are the major sources of support for CSC.


The Cancer Support Community formed in 2009 following the merger of The Wellness Community and Gilda's Club[5] The Wellness Community was founded in 1982 by Harold and Harriet Benjamin with Shannon McGowan in California.[6] They wanted to create something that had previously been missing in cancer care—an organization that would provide social and emotional support to cancer patients, their families, friends and caregivers.[7] Gilda's Club was founded in 1991 in honor of Saturday Night Live comedian and former ovarian cancer patient, Gilda Radner, after her passing, by her husband, Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull with other friends and family.[8] Gilda's Club opened locations to provide social and emotional support for people living with cancer nationwide while the Wellness Community locations remained on the West Coast.

In 2007 the Institute of Medicine released a pivotal report[9] on the importance of addressing the social and emotional needs of individuals living with cancer, which was a practice both the Wellness Community and Gilda's Club had been implementing for years. Not long after, to be able to better serve more individuals living with cancer, the Wellness Community and Gilda's Club merged to become the Cancer Support Community.[10]

Programs and services[edit]


CSC provides a toll-free Cancer Support Helpline[11] which takes calls from patients, families and health professionals seeking information, access to local and national resources, and counseling. An online chat service is also part of the support services. CSC also hosts an online support group called the Living Room. The community includes message boards and professional facilitated online support groups.

Affiliate Network[edit]

The Cancer Support Affiliate Network consists of 42 licensed affiliates, 150 satellite locations and a growing number of health care partnerships.[12][13] Affiliates provide programs free of charge to anyone affected by cancer, including patients, survivors, caregivers, loved ones and children.[14] These programs include support groups, short-term individual counseling, social activities, resource and referral services, educational sessions and health and wellness programs.

Educational resources[edit]

CSC produces the Frankly Speaking About Cancer program series in several formats to meet the educational needs of patients and families. The series includes eBooks, print material, videos, webinars and a podcast.[15]

Online support[edit]

The Living Room is CSC's online support group in the form of message boards and support groups.[16] People impacted by cancer can join, post to the message boards, or find a support group.[17]


The Cancer Support Community established the Research and Training Institute (RTI) to conduct psychosocial, behavioral and survivorship research for people living with cancer.[18] The goal of the research is to provide improved resources to individuals touched by cancer.

The Cancer Support Community uses evidence-based interventions to improve the patient experience by adding to the body of psychosocial research, developing tools and education resources.[19][20][21][22][23]

Among their key research programs and services are:

  • CSC's Cancer Experience Registry is an online community that enables people impacted by cancer to share their experiences, identify issues that impact their lives, take surveys, and access resources. CSC's RTI group uses the information from the surveys filled out by participants to improve the care for people with cancer and their caregivers, and to develop better services and programs for the community.[24][25]
  • CSC offers a decision support counseling program called Open to Options that can help patients prepare for an appointment in which they will be making a treatment decision.[26]
  • CancerSupportSource is a distress screening, referral and follow-up program developed and implemented by CSC.[27] It was created to identify the specific concerns experienced by a patient and provide a tailored and desired response.[28]

Policy and advocacy[edit]

The Cancer Policy Institute at the Cancer Support Community works with advisors and friends to advocate the mandate that comprehensive, quality cancer care includes medical care, as well as social and emotional care. The Cancer Policy Institute has initiatives,[29] training opportunities, learning materials,[30] and events. CSC's Grassroots Advocacy Network is open to anyone to join. The network provides a place to learn more about key issues that are important to cancer patients and their loved ones, and make one's voice heard at a local and national level. CSC positions include: access to care for all patients, quality as a central theme, and research as a critical priority.[31]

Use of funds[edit]

In 2015, the Cancer Support Community reported $8,731,796 net assets at the end of the year. In the same year, CSC reported $5,981,094 on expenses. Of those expenses, 82% went to programs and services, 9% went to management and general, and the other 9% went to general fundraising.[12]

Evaluations and ratings[edit]

The Cancer Support Community has received numerous high-level charity ratings including the following:

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission & Vision and History | Cancer Support Community". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  2. ^ "Find a Cancer Support Community Affiliate". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  3. ^ "Cancer Research Institute | Cancer Support Community". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  4. ^ "Cancer Policy Institute Aims and Positions | Cancer Support Community". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  5. ^ AUBERT, AMY (2016-08-30). "Cancer support group honors Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner for ongoing legacy". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  6. ^ "Harriet Benjamin, Wellness Community Co-Founder, 85 - Obituaries". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  7. ^ "Harold Benjamin 80 Founder of Wellness Community Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  8. ^ Williams, Lena (1994-11-03). "Gilda's Club for Cancer Patients Is Rising". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Merger With The Wellness Community » Gildas Club QC". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  11. ^ "Cancer Support Helpline - Get Help Now". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  12. ^ a b "Redefining the Cancer Experience" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  13. ^ "Financials | Cancer Support Community". Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  14. ^ Staff, KWQC (30 August 2016). "Gilda's Club Quad Cities statement on the passing of Gene Wilder". Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  15. ^ "Cancer Education: Frankly Speaking About Cancer Series". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  16. ^ "The Living Room". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  17. ^ "Mesothelioma Support Groups - Benefits and Resources". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  18. ^ "Member Spotlight: Cancer Support Community". 7 July 2016.
  19. ^ News, A. B. C. (12 October 2011). "Cancer Survival: Longer Lives Bring Long-Term Issues".
  20. ^ "Evolving Strategies for the Management of Multiple Myeloma : A Managed Care Perspective" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  21. ^ "Attitudinal barriers to participation in oncology clinical trials: factor analysis and correlates of barriers" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  22. ^ "Insight into Patient Access to Care in Cancer" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  23. ^ "Study of breast #cancer patients finds discrepancy in definition of value in care".
  24. ^ Community, Cancer Support (2016-02-02). "New Registry to Examine Full Impact of Stomach Cancer".
  25. ^ AM, Linda Marsa On 7/23/15 at 6:37 (23 July 2015). "The High Cost of Cancer Care: Your Money or Your Life?".
  26. ^ "Cancer Support Community's new service". 2012-07-21.
  27. ^ Landro, Laura (27 August 2012). "To Treat the Cancer, Treat the Distress" – via Wall Street Journal.
  28. ^ Landro, Laura (2012-08-28). "New Help for Distressed Cancer Patients".
  29. ^ Admin. "CSC Teams Up with EHE International for Cancer Awareness Campaign".
  30. ^ Printz, Carrie (1 July 2014). "Cancer and the affordable care act: Despite some challenges, most cancer experts say the new law benefits patients and survivors". Cancer. 120 (13): 1911–1912. doi:10.1002/cncr.28838. PMID 24939458.
  31. ^ "Cancer Policy Institute Aims and Positions - Cancer Support Community".
  32. ^ "Cancer Support Community - GuideStar Profile".
  33. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for Cancer Support Community".
  34. ^ "So That No One Faces Cancer Alone" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  35. ^ "National Cancer 2011 Top Nonprofit Ranking".