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Frank deMoss: His Simple Idea Launches Decades of Support for Cancer Patients

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Longtime San Andreas Resident shares inspiring memories

SAN ANDREAS, CA – October 18, 2019 - Frank deMoss started the Calaveras Cancer Support Group in 1992 while in the midst of his battle with prostate cancer. Today, it continues as a force for good – raising community awareness and helping those facing the challenge of a cancer diagnosis. 

It’s most recent project is assisting with hospitality for the Oct. 24 Steps to Kick Cancer awareness event presented by Mark Twain Medical Center. The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seating is limited and reservations are required; call (209) 754-5919 now. 

The Cancer Support Group joins the Mark Twain Health Care District and Sierra Pacific Industries in providing sponsorships elevating the level of hospitality at the event – including a special tent pavilion set up for the occasion on the hospital grounds. 

Guests will enjoy a complimentary sit-down lunch catered by MTMC’s popular Carmen’s Cafe while learning about local resources to diagnose, treat and triumph over breast cancer. Sacramento television personality Tina Macuha will share her breast cancer journey. 

The Calaveras Cancer Support Group meets monthly, at times bringing in guest speakers with expertise to aid and educate cancer patients. But mostly, cancer patients and caretakers share their mutual experiences with each other. 

And that’s what Frank deMoss had in mind when he started it. He explains, “We’d bring in speakers on topics of interest to cancer patients and their caregivers. But the most important thing was just talking to other folks having similar experiences with the disease.” 

It is estimated that more than 800 people have been touched by the group and its activities since Frank, now 90, established it almost 30 years ago. 

Frank and his wife Geri retired in 1990 and moved to Calaveras County from Los Gatos. They wasted no time getting involved in their new community. Frank jokes that, “We joined every organization we could find except the La Leche League.” 

And they volunteered where ever there was a need. When Frank was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he quickly learned there were no local resources to turn to. So, it just seemed natural for him to volunteer to start a support group.  

It began meeting monthly at the Senior Center in San Andreas and the couple hosted Cancer Support Group gatherings at their home. There usually were 10 or 12 cancer patients consistently embraced by the ever-changing membership of the group. 

Frank regained his health and he and Geri continued their community involvement. He was a driving force in the San Andreas Progressive Club – serving as president for a couple of years. During that time, Frank coined the catchy phrase “San Andreas – It’s Not Our Fault” as a snappy reply when folks questioned the name of his new hometown. That was because the deMosses former hometown of Los Gatos is located on the notorious San Andreas Fault which is blamed for serious earthquake activity in the Bay Area. 

“San Andreas – It’s Not Our Fault” quickly became a popular community slogan. It appeared on license plate holders (which are still seen today) and posters as Frank led the Progressive Club in promoting the community. 

One thing that really bothered him about San Andreas when he first arrived was that the town had no park. So he, along with Lucy Thein who also had served as the Progressive Club president, started the campaign to establish Turner Park which is now the popular hub for community activities. 

During those years, Frank began turning leadership of the Cancer Support Group over to Debbie Sellick, who was battling breast cancer at the time. She continues in that role, dedicated to raising awareness. 

The Cancer Support group is well-known for its annual fund-raising softball tournament. Debbie led the group’s effort to hold the event as a benefit every year for a local person battling cancer. Mike Ziehlke got involved the year it was dedicated to helping his daughter Breanna, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of two. 

Mike has organized the event ever since and Breanna, now a healthy 23-year-old, is among the volunteers helping to stage it. The tournament began with three teams in 2001 and this year drew 18 teams from as far away as Modesto. It is a treasured community event with a huge number of volunteers involved and teams ranging from groups of family and friends to serious softball enthusiasts. 

The Cancer Support Group has additional fundraising efforts supporting patient service accounts at Mark Twain Medical Center’s Cancer Center and Adventist Health Cancer Center. These accounts provide cancer patients with cash cards for gas, food and other needs associated with commuting for treatments. 

The group meets the first Thursday of each month at Greenhorn Creek. For more information check out the group’s Facebook page; email [email protected]; or call Debbie Sellick at (209) 768-9415.

768 Mountain Ranch Road
San Andreas, CA 95249
(209) 754-3521 Telephone

Nicki Stevens – Manager
Marketing and Business Development
(209) 754-5919 | [email protected]

[Photo: Geri and Frank deMoss]


About Mark Twain Medical Center

Founded in 1951, Mark Twain Medical Center is a 25-bed, critical access hospital providing inpatient acute care, outpatient services and emergency services. The Medical Center’s Medical Staff represents a broad range of specialties that ensure access to high quality medical care in a rural community. In addition to being a major provider of health services, Mark Twain Medical Center is also one of the area’s largest employers. More than 300 people are employed at the hospital and its five Family Medical Centers. The Medical Center is a member of Dignity Health and a part of CommonSpirit Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the nation dedicated to advancing health for all and serving communities in 21 states. Mark Twain Medical Center is also on Facebook. 

Publish date: 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Media Contact

Charanjit Singh
[email protected]