History

Lillian Converse, inspiration for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara

In 1949, Lillian Converse was treated for terminal cancer. Although she knew there was little chance of her recovery, she desired to help others with the disease. Her physician, Dr. Henry Ullmann, dreamed of having a rare, one-million-volt x-ray machine to treat cancer patients in Santa Barbara. Lillian’s husband, Elisha Converse, made this dream a reality by donating the funds in the memory of his wife and firmly establishing the tradition of community support for the Cancer Center. In 1950, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara purchased this machine, one of only seven in the United States used to treat cancer at that time. This pioneering vision for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center in Santa Barbara has blossomed into a facility committed to advancing the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer.

The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara joined with Sansum Clinic in 2012 to create the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic, to realize a vision for enhancing oncology care on the Central Coast. 

And now, our vision for the future of cancer care is coming to fruition with a new building under construction at 540 W. Pueblo Street, which will enable us to bring all members of our Santa Barbara oncology team under one roof. 

Located within two blocks of Sansum Clinic and Cottage Hospital in the heart of Santa Barbara’s medical village, the new Cancer Center will allow us to centralize all our outpatient cancer care, creating a seamless experience for the patients who entrust us with their care. With an anticipated opening of Fall 2017, we are striving to build the finest regional Cancer Center in the nation so that our facilities match the superior, personalized care we provide to all patients.Elisha Converse, benefactor

The Cancer Center was founded as a non-profit in 1949 with a generous gift. Then and now, the Cancer Center continually reinvests its revenue into the delivery and advancement of state-of-the-art cancer care.

Images: Lillian Converse (top) and Elisha Converse