What are the first thoughts that come to mind when a person hears the terrifying words, “you have cancer…?” Most people feel overwhelmed and immediately wonder how they will cope, how they will find answers to their questions, and how they will make their way through the medical mazes that loom before them.
These are the very questions that gave birth to OjaiCARES. ” I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. In those first few critical decision making weeks, faced with an overwhelming amount of information to absorb and waves of confusing emotions, I didn’t know where to turn. There were few resources in the Ojai Valley available to help me cope with my diagnosis. I was being treated at the Cancer Center in Santa Barbara and was introduced to the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC). It was there that I felt most comfortable and understood. Because the BCRC is run by cancer survivors we spoke the same language; it was like a sisterhood. About two years after my breast cancer treatments were completed I began to volunteer at the BCRC and was then invited to join the staff. I was associated with the BCRC for three years. Seeing what an important resource the BCRC is to Santa Barbara, I envisioned a place in Ojai for all people touched by cancer to find the services and resources that would integrate with their medical care; focusing on enhancing quality of life with dignity and hope. OjaiCARES is a community of sharing and support that promotes healing and wellness. I recognize that the cancer experience touches us all and by pulling together as a caring community and family, we enhance learning, comfort, and healing.
In addition to a special interest in breast cancer, cancer survivorship, and patient-physician communication, Susan is particularly interested in how information support enhances the quality of life. “What I love about my work is the role I play in helping people find the information they need to make informed decisions – especially with so much information for them to sort through to find what’s relevant, current and reliable. I witness time and again the resiliency of the human spirit. My own cancer event helps me to help others normalize their experience and provide them with hope.” Susan also gives good hugs.
Education – Bachelor of Education (University of Miami), Master of Education(Antioch University), Certificate of Patient Advocacy (UCLA)