Mission & Vision and History

Our Mission

As the largest professionally led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, the Cancer Support Community is dedicated to ensuring that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community.

Our Belief that Community is Stronger than Cancer

We are a relentless ally for anyone who is striving to manage the realities of this disruptive disease and get back to normal.    

No one can, or should, face cancer alone.

While we have witnessed many significant advances in treating this devastating disease, nothing takes the place of the power, inspiration, companionship, and connection that comes from community.

We are here to provide relevant and highly personalized support when and where it is needed most because Community is Stronger than Cancer.

Shadows of the CSC community showing support

Our Global Network in Action

We are a global non-profit network of 175 locations, including CSC and Gilda's Club centers, hospital and clinic partnerships, and satellite locations that deliver more than $50 million in free support and navigation services to patients and families.

In addition, we administer a toll-free helpline and produce award-winning educational and digital resources that, together with the locations, reach more than one million people each year.

We also conduct cutting-edge research on the emotional, psychological, and financial journey of cancer patients and advocate at all levels of government for policies to help individuals whose lives have been disrupted by cancer.

Our History and Growth

The Wellness Community little yellow house
The Wellness Community

Our global network traces its roots to a yellow house in Santa Monica, California, where Harriet and Dr. Harold Benjamin transformed the way our culture faces cancer.

After Harriet’s diagnosis with cancer in 1972, Dr. Benjamin sought to create a community that would provide social and emotional support to cancer patients and their families and friends - all free of charge.

In 1982, The Wellness Community opened its doors in Santa Monica, California.  

Gilda Radner and Harold Benjamin
Gilda Radner and Harold Benjamin

Gilda Radner, the late comedian and original “Saturday Night Live” benefited from The Wellness Community after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986. Her experience inspired her to call for similar support-focused organizations.  

Although Radner passed away in 1989, her husband, Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull, along with other friends and family, answered her call to action. Together, they founded Gilda’s Club New York City and opened its iconic Red Door in 1995.

In 2007, the Institute of Medicine released Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, emphasizing the importance of addressing the social and emotional needs of individuals facing cancer, rather than just their physical needs.

The report underscored what The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide, and its affiliate networks, had been doing for many years and sparked merger discussions between the two organizations to increase efficiencies and serve even more patients.

In 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club Worldwide became one organization: the Cancer Support Community.

In 2018, we welcomed the Denver-based nonprofit MyLifeLine.org, a digital community that includes thousands of patients, caregivers, and their supporters. The addition of MyLifeLine has enabled us to expand services in innovative, groundbreaking ways.