Mission and History

Our Mission​​​​​​​

CSC uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care.

Our Vision

Everyone impacted by cancer receives the support they want and need throughout their experience.

a group meeting


The Need in Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C., has the highest reported death rates due to breast and prostate cancer. It’s in the top quarter for cervical and colorectal cancer. More people die from cancer in Washington, D.C., than from Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, HIV/AIDS, suicide, influenza, and pneumonia combined. Facing limited resources and access to care, patients are often diagnosed after the cancer has spread, making recovery less certain. 

While cancer can impact us all, certain communities bear a disproportionate burden. More Black people die from cancer and have lower survival than any other racial or ethnic demographic group in the U.S. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Latino people, who are at higher risk for gallbladder cancer and certain infection-related cancers such as stomach, liver, and cervical cancer. Some studies show that LGBTQ people face higher risks for certain cancer types including lung, anal, breast, cervical, and skin cancer. 

Our Global Network in Action

We are a global nonprofit 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. 

See Our Locations

The Cancer Support Community has 175 locations worldwide, including 52 licensed affiliates and health care partnerships.



Our Support of Inclusion and Equity for All

We believe in equity for all, including in health care, and fight every day to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect and have the opportunity to live healthy and safe lives — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

We commit to listen, educate ourselves, and stand in solidarity with communities of color in these challenging times. We will create and maintain a climate of inclusion. We will hold our leaders, policymakers, and those in positions of power accountable with the expectation and conviction that these measures will end the inequalities we struggle with today and ensure that the opportunity to lead healthy and safe lives is within reach for all of us.

three smiling women

Our History and Growth

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, 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: Cancer Support Community. 

CSC DC opened its virtual doors in September 2021 with the help of its generous donors and those in the community who care about bringing free, accessible psychosocial cancer support to residents of Washington, D.C. CSC DC hopes to establish a physical home in Ward 7 or Ward 8 in early 2023.