Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach was built on in-person, emotional and social support for cancer patients and their families, but the coronavirus pandemic not only shut down its networking groups and other activities, it also forced the nonprofit to cancel its two major fundraising events, according to executive director/CEO Joey Shanahan.
The nonprofit shifted to Zoom events, but it has not been ideal, Shanahan said.
“The in-person connection is really important when you’re talking to other people with a similar experience when someone's feeling emotional and needs an arm put around them or a hug,” she said. “Everyone is missing that.”
To replace CSCRB’s signature events, June’s “Celebrate Wellness” and “Girl’s Night Out” which normally takes place in October, they will host their first live stream event, “Sunset at the Beach,” Thursday, Oct. 1 from 6 to 7 p.m.
The free event will be hosted by actor and comedian Mark DeCarlo and will feature cancer survivor stories, live and silent auctions, and an appearance by Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand, who has been public about his recent cancer battle.
“The Cancer Support Community of Redondo Beach provides free services to all comers who are dealing with all the challenges a cancer battle brings,” said Brand in an email.
Brand went on to write the 30-year-old nonprofit "represents what is best about the South Bay" staffed with caring and gracious people who always look out for others no matter their race, religion, ethnic origin or circumstance.
"I hope that people will support this organization even more this year with a generous donation during these very difficult times for all of us,” Brand added.
Shanahan said when the coronavirus shut them down, they moved to Zoom quickly and worked hard to get participants into their support groups, mind body classes, educational workshops and other events, logged in and up and running.
CSCRB has hosted more than 740 virtual programs and added 90 newly diagnosed cancer patients who have never stepped foot in their center since the shutdown.
“I guess a bit of a silver lining in all of this is we're now reaching participants who wouldn't have been able to come in person anyway, they either live a little too far out to come to Redondo Beach or they're too sick,” Shanahan said.
Some new participants in CSCRB because of Zoom include a woman in her 30s who is in hospice and is confined to her bed and a man going through chemotherapy treatments.
“It's really changing the way that we think about our service delivery,” Shanahan said, about the virtual format. “So going forward, hopefully next year when we reopen in person, we will also have a hybrid virtual component for people who aren't able to drive in for various reasons.
"In the end, I think we're going to end up serving more people than we ever have before.”
The free “Sunset at the Beach” also features a pre-show from 5:30 to 6 p.m. with local musician Jack Tracy.
For more information and to register, visit cscrb.org.