The Gathering Place offers free programs and services for anyone touched by cancer

Heart 423 Rev
The Gathering Place is a unique refuge and resource that offers an umbrella of free support programs and services. (Photography: Felicia Vargo)

By Olivia Bloom

“Totally saved me...”

This was written across one of the heart-shaped sticky notes from a participant, who shared why they were grateful for The Gathering Place.

Whether you are currently coping with cancer, living beyond treatment, are a caregiver, or are grieving a loss due to cancer, The Gathering Place is a unique resource offering an umbrella of free support programs and services.

The Gathering Place is entering its 24th year, with the Westlake location opening in 2008.

Navigating the Unknowns

Many participants come to The Gathering Place feeling overwhelmed after receiving a cancer diagnosis. The Gathering Place offers a variety of support groups, such as prostate, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and lung. “We cover everything from their emotions and feelings, frustrations and joys, to medical updates and navigating relationships. We serve every facet of the cancer community through monthly and weekly support groups, classes and programs—offered both in-person and virtually,” says Susan Marinac, who is a licensed oncology social worker. “Sometimes it’s difficult for people to say the right things to someone dealing with cancer. This is a safe space where everyone is going through a similar journey and can relate to each other. The sharing validates their reality.”

Susan Marinac, licensed oncology social worker

“The group focus is dealing with frightening unknowns, while celebrating joy and gratitude,” she adds. “They often end each session with ‘one good thing,’ where each participant in the group shares one good bit of news for that day.”

“Our medical librarian, Eileen Coan, is an experienced resource who also helps participants understand and navigate through medical terminology, research, or explore clinical trials,” Susan says. “In addition, TGP has a stocked library with helpful literature for individuals and families coping with the impact of cancer on their lives.”

Additional Support Tools

Studies have shown the positive impact diet and nutrition can have during and after cancer. The Gathering Place offers nutritional guidance from a registered dietician who offers one-on-one consultations, as well as hands-on cooking demonstrations of recipes that participants can make at home. Ongoing movement programs such as yoga and a host of exercise classes are important for building balance and stability to further their wellness goals.

TGP also offers a wig salon to those addressing hair loss due to their illness. Individuals can choose a beautifully styled wig, free of charge. “Cancer can limit your quality of life. Everything we do addresses how to move through those limits, to make the most of your life during your experience with cancer,” says Susan.

If you or someone you know is coping with cancer, visit or call anytime, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on every third Saturday of the month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at our Westlake location. The phone number is 216-595-9546 or visit

Open House Shopping Night!

Come tour The Gathering Place’s newly opened home furnishings resale shop on Thursday, April 27, from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m., within the Tri-C Corporate College West Building, at the corner of Columbia and Center Ridge roads in Westlake. Mention you’re a Mimi reader and get 20% off any purchase made at the event.

As large as a furniture store, you’ll find everything from kitchen tables and chairs to barstools, sofas, sectionals, chairs, bars, china cabinets, side tables, antiques, collectibles, coffee tables, lamps, tableware, crystal, glassware, wall art, sculptures, candlesticks, vases, mirrors, rugs, blankets, seasonal items and more. All proceeds from this event go to The Gathering Place. If you are unable to attend, other sales are planned for Saturday, May 20, and Saturday, June 17.

To donate gently used furniture and other decorative goods, please email or call 216-595-9546.

The Gathering Place is a 501(c)3 charity located at 25425 Center Ridge Road in Westlake (within the Tri-C Corporate College West building near the intersection of Columbia Road). The home furnishings resale shop is located on the first floor. To donate tax-deductible items, please email