In 1982, Dr. Harold Benjamin and his wife Harriet founded an organization called The Wellness Community dedicated to providing free support, education, and hope to families affected by cancer.
The Benjamins believed in the powerful connection between emotions and physical well-being. Harriet was a breast cancer survivor, and both she and Harold had benefitted from the encouragement of family and friends during their cancer journey.
Their experience with this support system and its role in Harriet’s recovery became the foundation for Dr. Benjamin’s Patient Active Concept, which encourages active participation in cancer treatment, camaraderie, and community “to improve the quality of life and enhance the possibility of recovery.”
The Benjamins’ original dream sparked a transformation within the cancer care community that began in Los Angeles and is still going strong today.
Gilda Radner is best known as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live. As one of the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” she created loveable characters like Rosanne Rosannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner.
Gilda was also one of the first participants in the Wellness Community and became one of its biggest advocates. She felt it provided “a community for people who have cancer to come and play in, to make their lives better, to have an opportunity to help themselves and help other people.”
Sadly, Gilda’s cancer was diagnosed too late for effective treatment. Following her death, her husband (actor and comedian Gene Wilder), her psychotherapist Joanna Bill, and many of her friends founded an organization similar to the Wellness Community Gilda had loved.
They called the organization Gilda’s Club because of Gilda’s tongue-in-cheek comment that having cancer in her life made her a member of an elite club to which she’d rather not belong.
As the years went on, the need for social and emotional cancer support lead both the Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club to see tremendous growth, with both organizations opening chapters throughout the country.
In 2009, the headquarters organizations of the Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club merged to form the Cancer Support Community. Today, the CSC is an international non-profit dedicated to providing support, education and hope to help those affected by cancer.
The Wellness Community of Greater St. Louis was founded by Peggy Michelson, Marsha Wolff and Tina Borchert and with the help of oncologist Dr. Peter Weiss.
In 1991 business leaders and medical professionals met with Harold Benjamin, PhD, the national founder of The Wellness Community. With the help of over 2000 volunteers and more than 100 St. Louis businesses, TWC - STL opened its doors to cancer patients and their loved ones in June, 1993.
On August 19, 2010, CSC's Board of Directors unanimously voted to change our local organization's name to: Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis and our National headquarters approved the name change on October 8, 2010.