By Julia Shapero

A cancer support organization’s annual Ladies Night Out event will last an entire week this year. 

Cancer Support Community Pasadena will be hosting Ladies Week Out from October 26 to October 31 for the 10th anniversary of its Ladies Night Out event.

CSCP is a nonprofit organization that provides free programs to families facing cancer, said Patricia Ostiller, the executive director of the organization.

The organization offers free support groups led by licensed therapists, educational workshops and healthy lifestyle classes to address the emotional and social needs of cancer patients, she added.

“Our primary goal is to ensure that nobody in the San Gabriel Valley goes through cancer alone,” Ostiller said.

For the past 10 years, Ladies Night Out has typically been held at the beginning of October each year to honor the women who have been affected by cancer, said events manager Kim Ferreira.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic, CSCP is unable to hold the event in-person in its standard format, leading them to create a week-long event instead, Ferreira said.

“We decided that it was time for us to be able to give back to the community that has given so much to us in the past,” she said. “So, we have built an entire week of celebration in order to do so.”

Each day throughout Ladies Week Out, three to 10 different restaurants and shops in the area will give back to CSCP whenever someone shops or dines in their location and mentions CSCP or brings a flier, Ferreira said.

She said to make the events inclusive to their members facing cancer, they are also offering options to shop online.

The organization has also produced passports that can be purchased, which list the shops where people can receive stamps as they attend events and dine in the restaurants, Ferreira said. At the end of the week, participants will have the chance to win prizes, she added.

“This is our way of hopefully being able to bring new faces and new customers to the shops, as well as still being able to have the fundraiser that we need to have this year in order for us to continue to provide the free services that (we offer),” Ferreira said.

Since they also wanted people to be able to get active, Ferreira said they will be hosting a virtual run, walk or ride.

“Whether you’re walking around the block, or you’re biking 50 miles, whatever it is, all we need you to do is just tag us (and) shoot pictures of your progress,” she said. “And then that gives people the chance to get active in this quarantined life, where we’re all just locked down at home.”

CSCP will also hold a Halloween bingo on October 31 over Zoom to celebrate both Halloween and the event, Ferreira added.

“The goal of this event was to do something a little bit different, celebrate our community, celebrate Cancer Support Community, and then also give people an option to be able to do something in the socially distanced world that we’re in right now,” she said.

Ostiller added that it is particularly difficult to face cancer during COVID-19.

“Imagine receiving a cancer diagnosis in the midst of a pandemic,” she said. “It’s been a challenging year for all of us in Pasadena, in the world. But imagine facing cancer during COVID-19.”

While most people have experienced isolation this year, Ostiller said that cancer patients are even more isolated, given that they are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their compromised immune system.

The coronavirus pandemic has also caused disruptions and delays in the treatment of cancer patients and led many people not to have preventive screenings, she said. Ostiller added that health care providers are now anticipating a surge in later stage cancer diagnoses next year.

She said that the funds from Ladies Week Out are key to allowing them to continue to provide their services, including 12 weekly support groups facilitated by licensed professionals and over 100 educational workshops and healthy lifestyle classes per month.

“Pandemic or not, cancer is not stopping,” Ostiller said. “And we need to continue to have the funds so that we can support these families who are facing cancer in our community.”