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Articles / 2012

Cancer patients, loved ones celebrate life

Ventura County Star
Sunday, June 3, 2012
By Monica Lara

Life, good humor and support were celebrated at a lunch for National Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday in Ventura.

About 50 cancer survivors, friends and relatives shared food, stories and laughs at the Ventura Beach Marriott Hotel.

Community Memorial Hospital Cancer Resource Center hosted the event to generate support for people affected by cancer, according to Kathleen Horton, the center's program manager.

"There are a lot of people who are diagnosed with similar cancers, but for everybody, what they go through is different," Horton said. "It is important they know they are not alone."

The resource center provides free services to cancer patients and support programs for families and community members. Programs include yoga, support groups and research on and educational access to cancer-related information.

"We are here to help cancer patients with anything they need," Horton said.

The center has hosted events to observe National Cancer Survivors Day in Ventura since 2006. Cancer organizations recognize the day on the first Sunday in June.

Friends Laurel Hayward, 56, and Linda Gagnon, 69, of Ojai, attended the event for the first time. Both are cancer survivors of more than nine years.

"When you get diagnosed you have no idea what to do. It depends on the stages and what you are willing to do as far as treatment," Gagnon said. "Here you'll see people stand up and say they are 25 years cancer-free. It gives a lot of people hope."

Hayward and Gagnon participate in support groups including the Breast Cancer Support Group in Ojai. "The groups provide a way for people of all ages and stages of diagnosis to network and look out for one another," Hayward said.

"When you go through a support group, you gain the information you need to make choices, and you gain a family," Hayward said.

Comedian Jason Love, of Camarillo, set the tone by getting the crowd laughing as they dined.

The featured speaker was life coach Kimberly Reid, of Camarillo. Playing, creating and loving were the focus of her presentation.

"The main thing is to learn there is a better way," Reid said. "People don't have to be enslaved by their struggles and can live the life they want and also love."

For more information, visit the National Cancer Survivors website at