This article is about Shabad MacGregor, good friend and performer at the VIC!

‘Laughter & Music’ benefit set for Ojai cancer patient

By Alicia Doyle
Ventura County Star,
September 23, 2009
Link to article

The Ventura Improv Company and 13-year-old L.A. comic Steven “Steve O” Ford will bring the funny to “An Afternoon of Laughter & Music,” a benefit Sunday in Ojai for Kathleen MacGregor, a beloved Ojai woman who is battling cancer.

Bringing the music will be The Household Gods, Don & Patricia Cardinali & Friends and jazz by The Toni Jannotta Trio. All the day’s mirth and music will be aimed at helping a friend and neighbor in her time of need.

“The proceeds raised will help me get through this, providing necessary funds until I am well enough to work full time again,” said MacGregor, 59, who has lived and worked as an acupuncturist in Ojai and Ventura since 1991.

On Sept. 3, 2008, MacGregor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system, and underwent chemotherapy.

“I relapsed several months later,” she said. “The oncologist recommended that I get immediate chemo and a stem cell transplant, and that involved a lot of time in the hospital.

“Because of the intensive chemo and long preparation time — and the long hospital stays and recovery — I can’t work.”

Because she is self-employed, “my friends suggested we do a fundraiser,” MacGregor said. “At first I wasn’t into the idea because I’m a pretty private person. But when it became obvious I wouldn’t be able to go through this without help, my friends volunteered to help.”

With that, the Friends of Shabad Kathleen MacGregor will host the afternoon of comedy and music on Sunday at the Ojai Community Church, with Buddy Wilds of Ojai serving as emcee.

Proceeds will help defray living expenses while MacGregor undergoes cancer treatment and a stem cell transplant.

“The reason that I’m in this situation is because our healthcare system is broken,” MacGregor said. “It turns out my disease is pretty advanced. One reason my cancer wasn’t diagnosed earlier was my insurance. At first I was underinsured; then my premiums went up and my status changed to uninsured. When my first symptoms arose, I could not afford the expense of testing that may have given me an earlier diagnosis.”

At this point, a stem cell transplant at City of Hope is her best chance for survival.

“It breaks my heart to know that many people are in the same situation due to our broken healthcare system,” she said.

The good news is the journey has revealed a wonderful sense of community, “something that has always been close to my heart,” said MacGregor, whose experience began under the care of community nurses and doctors who work in public health.

“The staff of the Ventura County Medical Center and oncology clinic are an enormously kind, compassionate and skilled group of people,” she said. “They have taken such good care of me over the last year.”

She also credits her daughter, friends, fellow patients and neighbors for providing a strong support system.

“I live alone and, believe me, going through chemo is impossible to do by yourself; I had no big family to jump in, so my friends became my caregivers,” MacGregor said. “They have brought over food, gone shopping for essentials, driven me to appointments, cleaned, done kitty care and listened, offering spiritual support and love, which is the most important survival ingredient.”