You Can Always Talk To Someone

Cancer support group goes online to maintain support; “We’re a small but mighty team”
By EDDIE RIVERA, Weekndr Editor
Published on Apr 3, 2020

The world’s revolutionary transition to living online has found a very likely partner and friend.  

Cancer Support Community Pasadena (CSCP) has been able to transition smoothly to providing online counseling, teaching and support services daily to its members, replacing its former group meetings.

“We’re encouraging others to join our community when faced with a cancer diagnosis,” CSCP Program Director Laura Wending said Thursday.  “We want to reduce the isolation that a cancer diagnosis, and now this pandemic, can bring to patients and their family members.”

The CSCP is currently using a Zoom Pro platform which is HIPAA compliant as well as offering live virtual yoga, Feldenkrais, and meditation classes for cancer patients and their family members.  For the uninitiated, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, (HIPAA), is a series of regulatory standards outlining the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). Its compliance is regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

As Wending explained, “Especially with this coronavirus issue, we have a population that is immunosuppressed and going through cancer treatment.

We just felt that wasn’t in the best interests of our constituents to continue with our program on-site.”

According to Wending, the decision to move everything online was made not only by the local Pasadena support group, but by all the cancer support affiliate communities across the country. 

“We prioritized our support groups primarily,” said Winding,  “because those are mostly people who are currently going through treatment. Their current, their biggest stress in life right now is their cancer, and now all of a sudden they can’t go anywhere. They’re seeing their doctors virtually, and they can’t see a lot of their family members at a time when cancer is already so isolating in their life.”

Cancer Support Community Pasadena offers almost daily online groups. Their calendar is online here.

The group serves “anyone affected by cancer.” said Welding, including patients, parents, children, and loved ones.  

Wending noted, “In 2019, we served 1024 people directly that walked in our doors. And we provided 18,000 service hours, all free of charge.”

The virtual classrooms and support groups were essentially designed and coordinated by CSCP staff in a week to ten days. Now, dozens of support meetings and classes have been set up and placed on the group’s calendar. 

“It’s more secure than your regular zoom,” Wending explained. “It’s done on an invitation basis. So we contacted all the support group members, gave them the code to log on, and gave them instructions on what type of device they needed. 

Many were surprised that the service was available on just an iPhone, or an Android, or an iPad. As Wending noted, many cancer victims are the older population who are not necessarily tech savvy.

But CSCP also has an operations manager available to walk newbies through the process or help family members walk them through getting their device set up, said Wending. 

“So if they regularly had a support group on Wednesday night at six o’clock, their virtual support group is also on Wednesday night at six o’clock.” 

Currently, there are 11 weekly support groups up, along with a monthly support group for survivors. There is also a Spanish language support group that meets on Saturdays.

The group’s website also features an assortment of support videos, such as meditation and yoga exercise support videos. There are also links to educational workshops as well as recorded educational workshops, and cooking demonstrations.

The complete calendar, which Wending notes, is constantly being updated, is available to members here.  

Most importantly, stresses Wending, is that all of CSCP’s services are free of charge. 

“We think it’s incredibly important,” said Wending because anxiety and depression are so high in cancer patients and their family anyway, that this (isolation) is just creating a lot of additional stress and trauma. People who are trying to eat better while going through cancer, they’re afraid to go to the grocery store. They’re afraid to even go out anywhere because of a chance of getting the virus because they know they’re immunosuppressed. The anxiety of it all is a big part of it.”

The CSCP is available to anyone affected by cancer anywhere in the San Gabriel Valley. 

“We’re a small but mighty team,” said Wending.

More information on CSCP is available at info@cscpasadena, (626) 796-1083. Cancer Support Helpline: 888-793-9355

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