Memorable Mission Moments

Janet Anne's Story

Gilda’s Club Chicago was there to offer social, emotional and informational support when I needed it most.

I pointed out the need for a support group for LGBT members facing cancer. Within three weeks, we had our first meeting. My fight is not a positive thing, but I do have a positive attitude. I refuse not to be happy. Gilda’s Club is more than a place. It’s a refuge. It’s a resource. It’s a social space. My LGBT support group is a place where I know I’m not alone, a place where I can cry, and a place I can get hugs.

John's Story

I lost my wife to cancer. As difficult as my transition from a spouse/caregiver back to an individual was, it would have been exponentially more difficult without Gilda's Club.

I am lucky. My family and friends would have done anything for me after my wife died of cancer, but none of them could understand what my group members at Gilda’s Club could understand. Having a safe place to go to share that part of my life allowed me to work out my anger, frustration and sadness. Gilda's Club was the catalyst that enabled me to find a way to move on.

Somewhere around the sixth month of my membership, I started to wonder: Who is paying for all of this? It was then that I knew I had to do something to make sure this type of support would always be available to Chicago's cancer community. For me, "doing something" meant joining the Club’s Associate Board.

Involvement is my way of ensuring that 10 years from now, a 31-year-old who has lost it all and doesn't know where to turn has a resource like Gilda's Club to help him find a way to move forward.

Deb's Story

In July 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It turned my entire world upside down. I was a newlywed. I was happy. Cancer was nowhere in my plan.

My diagnosis went from “small and curable” to a very complicated case. I found myself slipping into a very dark place. That’s when I made the call to Gilda’s Club. The receptionist handled my call very professionally and encouraged me to attend a New Member Meeting.

I agreed reluctantly. My husband drove me to Gilda’s. I was walking with a cane and in a very skeptical state of mind. I told him to stay close. If everyone was in there crying, I was out of there! But they weren’t crying. They were smiling and laughing. I could not believe these people had cancer! The club was welcoming and inviting. I felt like I was in someone’s home. It was love at first sight for me. It was the first day I forgot about my cancer.

Melissa's Story

My mom has had cancer now for two years, and that’s my biggest trial. At school I have friends, but I can be true with my emotions at Gilda’s Club.

It’s not that I don’t worry about my mom. I do and I always will. It’s just that I don’t have to pretend that everything’s fine. I don’t have to be anything but myself. At Gilda’s Club, people know where we’re coming from without our even having to express our story. It’s like a home, a family. Amid these dark battles, we’re able to bond and to laugh. We can see that life is more than living with cancer.

Marvin's Story

I teach tennis and one of my students had breast cancer. My wife also teaches yoga here at Gilda’s Club. The free classes at Gilda’s make it possible for me to take yoga.

It took me a while to get here. I read a book in 1996 and knew I would do yoga one day. I told my wife this, and she started doing yoga in 1997 and eventually became an instructor. I started in 1998, and now I’m at Gilda’s Club twice a week.

Yoga is like a medication to me. Magazines have talked about yoga as a way to help maintain health. There are 10 poses we should do every day. If I play golf without doing these poses, my back would kill me. Some of my tennis students tell me that they take an Advil before they play to avoid the pain. I take yoga.

Yoga teaches you about your body. It helps you learn about your body. Those people who say "no pain, no gain" – that’s ridiculous. If I injure myself, with yoga I can figure out what I did and how to get better. Yoga does more than people realize. Everybody should do it.

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