Community: Cancer survivor event benefits support center

The Glendale Adventist Medical Center Cancer Care Guild will recognize five people who exemplify courage and leadership in the battle against cancer during the 2015 Courage Awards dinner on Tuesday, at the Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena.

Recipients will be Dr. Jerry Wada, Marilyn Gunnell, Mina Shirvanian, Alexx Anne Rex and Trunita Crump-Knighton.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Cancer Support Center, where cancer patients, survivors and their families receive support through many free programs and services, said Irene Bourdon, president of the Glendale Adventist Medical Center Healthcare Foundation.

“These are programs like yoga, massage therapy and cancer support groups in which patients meet with a social worker or therapist and talk about the emotional challenges of going through cancer treatment, so it helps them by getting support from other cancer patients,” Bourdon said.

There are classes on jewelry-making, knitting and fitness as well as a Positive Image Center, where cancer patients are fitted with wigs, hats and scarves and guided in make-up application.

What makes the Cancer Support Center especially unique is that all cancer support services are open to and provided for free to anyone diagnosed with cancer and their families, not just those patients receiving care through Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Bourdon said.

There are also free bereavement support groups and workshops to help families cope with loss.

The guild is affiliated with the Healthcare Foundation and the guild’s purpose is to raise funds for the Cancer Support Center. Guild president is Tina Parsegian, who has had family members who have been touched by cancer so this is a cause that is close to her heart, Bourdon said.

There are three categories for Courage Awards — Physician, Patient and Healthcare Professional.

Dr. Wada will receive the Physician Courage Award for his significant achievements in cancer treatment and care, and his extraordinary compassion and dedication to cancer patients and their families.

Many nomination letters came in for Dr. Wada, but one really stood out, Bourdon said.

“One patient, in particular, said that she was very frightened and what she found to be so wonderful about Dr. Wada was his gentle and patient explanations, and he always made himself available to her, so she would call him,” Bourdon said. “He has a calm and comforting way of translating the medical technical information into a comforting conversation. To her, Dr. Wada was more than a doctor, he was a wonderful support person through a difficult time.”

The Courage Award in the Patient category will be given to cancer patients who have overcome the challenges of cancer treatment, and this year’s recipients will be Gunnell, Shirvanian and Rex, who have each shown strength of spirit and support for other cancer survivors and have made a difference in the lives of patients and families touched by this disease.

Gunnell was nominated by a variety of people because, in their eyes, she represented a great deal of courage and was a role model for continuing to give to others in the community, Bourdon said.

“She remained very active all during her course of treatment and never let the diagnosis stop her from doing a lot of the community volunteer activities that she has always been involved with,” she said.

Shirvanian received several nominations as well, and she is extremely active in the Armenian community.

“But I think what set her apart was how much she gave not just to her community but to her family,” Bourdon said. “She never let anyone down in terms of supporting her family and her friends. She continued to be active in the hospital guild and programs, and she actually was a strong rock for the rest of her family. She’s really an amazing lady.”

Rex was someone that the cancer center staff felt was a role model because she was so positive, Bourdon said.

“In addition to being brave, she maintained a great deal of positivity that she shared with the rest of the patients at the cancer center,” she said.

Crump-Knighton will be the recipient of the Healthcare Professional Courage Award. She is a radiation therapist who has demonstrated extraordinary compassion and service to patients and families at Glendale Adventist’s Cancer Center, said Michelle Bogossian, whose husband was a patient at the center.

“I would watch Trunita escort my husband in to radiation treatments,” Bogossian said. “She upheld him in every sense of the word.”

Bogossian was grateful because her husband always felt so much love from all of the staff there, Bourdon said.

“In particular, Trunita always made him laugh and smile,” Bourdon said. “She would give him a lot of encouragement as she walked him down the hall toward the radiation treatment.”

Courage Award dinner tickets are $125 each. For sponsorship or ticket information, call (818) 409-6604 or email

Las Candelas thanks outgoing president

Las Candelas members honored outgoing president Jeannie Flint and welcomed incoming President Ellyn Semler during a meeting in late September at Oakmont Country Club.

Social chair Diane Russell organized the event titled, “A Noche Debajo de las Estrellas,” which translated means “A Night Under the Stars.” After an hour reception, a buffet of enchiladas, roasted sirloin and sea bass was served.

Attending the celebration were members Sally Perkins, Marilyn Butler, Ann Ways, Patricia Aleman, Diane Johnson, Fran Buchanan, Anna Brewer, Monica Sierra, Cathy Keen, Patti Baker, Nancy Stone, Carole DePaul, Harriett Rector, JC Byer, Pattie McCormick, Marcia Lytle, Glady Kabateck, Joan Campbell, Margaret Cline, Bobbi Gangi, Marion Greene, Carolyn Beaton and associate members Valery Moorhead and Mary Barber.

Also attending were members’ husbands and guests. A highlight was the introduction of 2015-16 provisional member Rosina Maize and her husband, Earl.

Founded in 1953, the mission of Las Candelas is to provide volunteer service and programs to emotionally challenged children. Las Candelas brings monthly programs and services to the children at Hathaway-Sycamores in Altadena and Hillsides in Pasadena.

The organization also provides financial support to the Glendale YWCA’s domestic violence program, Glendale Healthy Kids, Didi Hirsch and Ascencia.

Funds to support their services are raised through the biennial fashion show luncheon. Member JC Byer of Glendale is chair of the next fundraiser in 2017.

Women’s group elects officers

Glendale’s Philanthropic Educational Organization recently elected officers for the 2015-16 year.

They are President Jeannie Smith, Vice President Robin Collins, Recording Secretary Becky Ashcraft, Corresponding Secretary Mary Wickser and Treasurer Bree Mosely.

The organization is made up of 15 chapters with more than 650 members from Glendale, Burbank, La Cañada, La Crescenta and Los Angeles.

The international women’s organization was founded in 1869, and members support educational opportunities for women by offering scholarships and financial aid. Nearly 89,000 women have benefited from the five educational grants, loans and awards offered by the group as well as special projects.

World Community Day planned

Church Women United Glendale will host World Community Day on Nov. 7, beginning with registration at 9:30 a.m. at the Lutheran Center (First Lutheran Church), 1300 E. Colorado St., Glendale.

The program will include music by concert pianist Guldana Zholymbetova and a discussion facilitated by Dixie Hanson relating to “Women and Justice.”

A suggested registration fee of $10, payable at the door, will include lunch. For reservations, call (323) 254-6632.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at