Paul Wellman

Overlooking the scenic view of the marina, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara fittingly celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual event — Viva La Vida — on June 5 at Santa Barbara City College’s West Campus in order to uplift and commemorate cancer survivors and patients.

Viva La Vida has been celebrated every year since 1980, and is affiliated with the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, a nonprofit organization that provides state-of-the art cancer treatment. The aim of the event is to let those affected with cancer just forget about their treatment and instead celebrate their lives.

“It’s a nice day to escape a cancer diagnosis,” Lindsay Groark, Public Relations Coordinator of the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, said. “It’s celebrating life, just forgetting about doctors, and instead focusing on strength. It encourages cancer survivors.”

Among the survivors was radiation oncologist Dr. Thomas Weisenburger, a graduate of UCLA and thyroid cancer survivor. “As a physician, it’s nice to see my patients in this event,” Weisenburger said. “You know, people with cancer are just like everybody else, but they also have courage to face difficulties and survive. My patients inspire me.”

The festivities included an arts-and-craft booth, an alpaca exhibition, a game booth with soccer and three-legged races, a massage parlor, magicians, a DJ, clowns, and an inflatable bouncer. Additionally, Groark and other volunteers took snapshots of cancer survivors for their Celebrating Survivors Project, which is a photo collage of cancer survivor pictures and stories that will be displayed later on their website.

All of the amenities, including food, were free for attendees because of the generous support from corporations and foundations that contribute to the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara.


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