“The program helped me set my emotional GPS on joy and healing. I never thought joy was possible
in cancer.” – Jeannie A.

Beat the odds of feeling bad!!

Of course the odds of feeling bad are high when you or your loved one is diagnosed
with cancer or another life-threatening illness.

Many just assume that depression, anxiety, fear, and worry are simply unavoidable consequences of a serious illness.

The Beat the Odds program, based on the influential work of O. Carl Simonton, MD, an acclaimed oncologist, proves that assumption wrong, freeing patients and their families from the grip of pessimism.

Quality of life weighs heavily on the emotions we experience, making the ability to experience hope, meaning, and joy fundamental.

Our comprehensive cancer survivorship program helps patients and their loved ones effectively deal with emotions such as doubt, fear, and blame so more positive emotions can be cultivated, leading to happy, high-quality lives, despite the diagnosis.

And research has shown that cancer patients who can re-frame their thinking may increase the likelihood of survival. Click here to read more about these research findings.

There are no intricate theories here. Just easy-to-implement skills you can use to combat stress and increase joy.

Program Description

The Beat the Odds program is not a support group. The focus is on teaching easily applicable mind/body medicine skills so you can effectively handle all aspects of the cancer experience, including complex family relationships and interpersonal issues.

Our comprehensive program consists of ten weekly interactive classes (workshops). In each class, you will learn new skill sets to decrease distress and promote healing, followed by discussions and exercises, so you can practice applying your newfound skills.

Of course, any effective learning requires homework, but you will find the assignments to be both pleasurable and inspiring.

We recommend that you participate in all classes, as each builds and expands on the skills presented in the preceding ones.

Click here to view the class curriculum.

A Program That’s Also for Your Support Person

No one plans on becoming a support person. It comes unexpectedly, and suddenly there are more things to take care of in addition to usual duties such as dealing with doctors, tests, multiple appointments, insurance issues, employment, and benefits. It becomes like a full-time job and it’s easy to get burned out. Coping skills are essential.

While you can certainly attend our classes by yourself we strongly recommend you bring your spouse or someone else such as a close friend or family member who is dedicated to your care. The reason being that our program is also designed for your support person. Just as we give you skills to cope better and feel better, we do the same for them.
The reasons to bring a support person are numerous, but here are the most frequently mentioned benefits:

• Being a support person is tough. Beat the Odds is one of the few programs that teaches the support person skills in a comprehensive way, so they can learn to “speak the same language” and understand the same concepts as the person they’re supporting.
• One of our classes focuses specifically on teaching the skills needed for providing effective support and improving healthy communication.
• In our program, you and your support person will learn skills for stress management and emotional competence. Doing the program together allows you to support each other in applying these skills in your daily lives.
• It is easy for the support person to neglect their own needs.
• Miscommunications and misunderstandings may become more frequent when the support person feels overwhelmed and can no longer effectively manage their stress. Our program addresses stress management and effective communication.
• Frustrations, worries and doubts can erode the support person’s energy. Our program teaches them how to restore their energy so that they can more adequately support you.

The program is also offered as a five-day Residential Retreat or a two-weekend (Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday two weeks apart) Urban Retreat.

Initial Evaluation

An initial evaluation is conducted before you begin the program. This allows us to get to know you and establish a personal connection.

During our session, we will work to understand your needs, address any immediate concerns, answer any questions you may have, collect your insurance information, and schedule individual sessions.

Please note that this program is most effective when class work and individual work are combined.

Meet the Program Leaders

Mariusz Wirga, M.D., Medical Director of Psychosocial Oncology at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center who has over 25 years of experience working with cancer patients and their families. In 2004, he and his wife Aleksandra Wirga introduced the successful Beat the Odds program at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Aleksandra Wirga, M.D., Board Certified psychiatrist and expert in cognitive-behavior therapy with over 20 year experience in psycho-oncology and mind-body medicine.

Dates and Times

The Beat the Odds program consists of ten weekly classes. The classes begin at 6 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. and are held at the Treatment Planning Room, Todd Cancer Pavilion, 2810 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach, CA. – view directions. Refreshments are available in the evening class.

Morning Classes – offered by Erin Sommerville – Mind-Body Oncology Coach at Todd Cancer Institute – who has over twenty years of experience in working with Dr O. Carl Simonton and both Dr. Wirgas, also provides Beat the Odds courses at the same location but in the morning hours of 9:30 am to 12 noon (click here for the flyer ). Erin’s classes are free of charge and no insurance coverage is needed. For more information about Erin’s classes please call her at (562) 933-9520. Erin also provides individual and couples mind-body oncology coaching sessions that complement the 10 week course.

The dates are subject to change. Please consult the calendar for the most recent schedule.
All participants will be asked to fill out the confidential Intake Form that can be downloaded here.

Individual Sessions
Individual, family, and couples therapy sessions are scheduled independently with doctors Aleksandra and Mariusz Wirga, as well as with Erin Sommerville. Click here for contact information.
Please call our office at (562) 427 3897 to sign up for the Beat the Odds program.