I joined Gilda’s club in November 2018 as I was completing 5 months of chemotherapy. I had the support of my wonderful friends and family, but cancer is very good at making us feel isolated. I needed people around me who just got it. When I walked into my first wellness group meeting, I knew immediately that I was no longer alone. I was welcomed into a kind, safe, confidential space where we chatted on all ranges of topics. Through Gilda’s, I have met the bravest, strongest people from all walks of life, and each one has provided invaluable advice, from medicine and treatment decisions to life and love wisdom.
Fast-forward to September 2020, and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, my wellness group continues to check-in virtually every week. You may wonder why I continue to attend group, despite being no-evidence-of-disease for over one year (!!!) Mental health is an often overlooked and even dismissed portion of the cancer treatment process. Many treatment centers do not include our mental and emotional health as part of the protocol. I assure you, once the active treatment portion of my plan was complete, the full emotional and mental load of everything I went through hit me like a train. I felt so lost and just devastated at my situation. Healing and rebuilding a sense of peace and stability has taken time, much longer than the 5 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation. I am so happy that I had a community ready and willing to catch me before I fell deeper into that darkness. Gilda’s gives me the space to fully process and feel how cancer has affected me, and it has allowed me to live my life normally on the other nights. I am free to work and live without constantly thinking about the past and fear of recurrence in the future. Furthermore, I know that once I am ready to graduate to the “Beyond Cancer” chapter of my life, my wellness group will always be there to support me should I ever need them again. I often tell people my one biggest regret since my diagnosis was not joining Gilda’s Club sooner.
One of the best parts about Gilda’s Club is that they are a completely free service to anyone of any age who has been affected in any way by cancer – whether you yourself were diagnosed, or if a friend/family member was affected. They offer programs throughout the month that are FREE to any member, from yoga to special art/cooking classes to game nights. The incredible staff has even continued to offer completely virtual programs throughout the pandemic. I personally have attended cooking classes, virtual Bingo, a DIY fascinator program, and a comedy night. Again, all of these have been completely free to all members. Gilda’s has done so much for me over the past 2 years, and it is now my turn to help give back to them. Please join me in helping to raise money for one of my favorite organizations. I am aiming to raise $1000 and send me OVER THE EDGE! Any contribution will help Gilda’s continue to provide community services to all people in Kentuckiana who have been affected by cancer.