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Diana Sevanian: Support ‘Imagine ... La Bella Vida’ for ACS

Imagine ... La Bella Vida

Posted: June 27, 2009 8:14 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Picture this: An elegant Tuscan atmosphere (without driving any further than the Tournament Players Club in Westridge), delicious Northern Italian cuisine, fragrant wines and beautiful music. Add to the tempting milieu a very special ceremony recognizing three oncologists who battle cancer each day with the utmost expertise and compassion for their patients.
What is this distinguished scenario I speak of? 

It’s “Imagine ... La Bella Vida” – the American Cancer Society SCV Unit’s inaugural tribute gala, slated for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2 at TPC in Valencia. Physicians to be honored are hematologist/oncologists John Barstis and Alexander Black, both of the UCLA/SCV Cancer Center in Valencia, and Shamel Sanani, of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

“We are thrilled to pay tribute to these outstanding doctors,” said Candy Spahr, ACS SCV Unit president, who is co-chairing the event with Donna Nuzzi. “Each doctor has positively affected hundreds of families throughout this community, while passionately striving to end cancer and the suffering it creates.”

Both Spahr and Nuzzi have been touched by cancer in their own families — Spahr’s husband and daughter-in-law are survivors. Nuzzi’s father died from cancer and her brother is a survivor.

Spahr notes that “La Bella Vida” — “the beautiful life” in Italian — reflects the American Cancer Society’s goal to measurably improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.

“The beautiful life is what the American Cancer Society envisions in its everyday efforts to cure cancer and help those affected by the disease,” Spahr said. “This gala is a superb vehicle for furthering the Society’s mission and providing for those who hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’”

With tickets priced at $100 each, the event’s proceeds will go towards ACS research, community education, patient services, education and early detection.

“Continuing cutting-edge research is mandatory for fighting cancer,” Nuzzi said. “Despite significant ACS strides in reducing cancer deaths, cancer remains the No. 1 cause of death for people in their prime working years.”

Cancer actually accounts for three times the mortality caused by alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, homicide, fire, and AIDS combined. It also kills more children from birth to age 14 than any other disease. Looking at the entire life cycle, some 41 percent of all Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime.

With more than two million volunteers and 3,400 offices, the ACS is one of the oldest and largest voluntary health agencies in the U.S. To date, the nonprofit has invested some $3 billion in research since its 1946 launch, and has funded the early research of 42 Nobel Prize winners.

The American Cancer Society is a beacon of hope and formidable anti-cancer defense weapon for men, women and children. But being a nonprofit — especially in these economically distressed times — the organization critically needs our support to keep doing what it does so well: Striving to eliminate cancer as a major health problem, saving lives and diminishing suffering through research, educating the public about early detection and prevention and advocating for responsible cancer legislation.

Even if I hadn’t lost precious loved ones and friends to cancer, or currently know people battling this disease; even if I did not live with the concern that my own genetic tendencies toward malignant high-jinks may eventually strike within me (or worse, my children); even if I didn’t share a common bond of friendship and optimism with dozens of other ACS SCV Unit volunteers, I would be doing this — proudly volunteering for the American Cancer Society.

And I ask that you please join our mission.

One wonderful way you can do so is by marking off “Sunday, Aug. 2 at TPC” on your calendars, and then support the ACS in honoring three praiseworthy oncology leaders while moving everyone closer to “La Bella Vida” — a beautiful life — without cancer.

For information including tickets, sponsorship/underwriting opportunities, volunteering or donations, contact Tameka Payne, Community Director American Cancer Society, San Fernando-Santa Clarita Valley Units at (661) 298-0886 option 3 or e-mail her at For information about cancer or the American Cancer Society visit The ACS SCV Unit is located at 25020 Avenue Stanford Ste 170 in Valencia. Tournament Players Club is located at 26550 Heritage View Lane in Valencia.

Diana Sevanian is a resident of Saugus. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily that of The Signal.


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