Cancer Warriors Wednesday – The Wellness Community

I stopped sitting at home saying “why me?” I began to crawl to The Wellness Community like someone in search of an oasis in the desert. My car couldn’t get there fast enough to be nourished by other cancer patients and to know that I was not alone.” Gilda Radner from her book “It’s Always Something”When I was diagnosed with cancer, I searched out the only other person I knew who was living with the disease. We didn’t know each other very well, she is the wife of a friend, but she graciously agreed to meet with me. We went to lunch and talked.

Our physical stories were very different. I was diagnosed with Stage 0 DCIS breast cancer and was facing a mastectomy and reconstruction. She was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and had never had a surgery. Instead, she was living with her tumors and the side-effects of the drugs which kept them from growing. The drugs had disabling effects and she had to quit her job and live, every day, with the cancer and drugs inside her.

As we talked, I realized she was dealing with much more than I was facing and our conversation turned from the physical to the emotional. She told me how important support was and how she found it in a very special place – The Wellness Community. As she told me about the sense of community, sharing and programs offered there, I saw her entire demeanor lighten, as if someone had thrown her a lifeline.

Much later, with my surgeries behind me, I stumbled upon a book I had been wanting to read  – Gilda Radner’s, “It’s Always Something.” Gilda originally intended the book to be a collection of comedic observations, but she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the book took another turn. As I read her words about the Wellness Community and what it offered her, I remembered our lunch:

Amazingly, everything was free. There were group therapy sessions that met …Everything else was on a drop-in basis, including instruction in guided imagery and visualization and relaxation…There were group sessions for spouses or family members of cancer patients, nutrition and cooking discussions, lectures by doctors – oncologists and psychiatrists – workshops on anger management, potluck dinners and parties, therapy through painting, vocalizing, improvising – all techniques that would help in stress management and improve the quality of someone’s life. Gilda Radner’s “It’s Always Something”

After Gilda’s death, her husband and friends set out to fulfill her wish that “no one should face cancer alone,” and created the first Gilda’s Club program in New York City. Now, Gilda’s Club and The Wellness Community have officially merged under the name Cancer Support Community.

If you need support and are newly diagnosed or dealing with survivorship issues, please check out the Cancer Support Community. They offer online support and have over 50 local sites across the United States, Canada, Japan and Israel.  All support services are still free!  If you’ve received support from The Wellness/Cancer Support Community, I’d love to hear how it provided you a lifeline, like it did for Gilda and still does for the lovely woman who met me for lunch.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

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Comments

Renn's picture

It’s on my list!

Debbie, the Cancer Community has been on my list for several months now. Hadn’t felt up to going prior. I think you have to be “ready” to do the face-to-face meeting with other BCers; not sure i was ready before but I am now. There is a Tuesday evening orientation meeting in my area, it’s been on my to-do list for weeks! I have yet to walk through the door. Maybe next week.

Gilda’s Club and The Wellness Community merged to form The Cancer Community. They offer yoga classes and support. I’m really looking forward to going! Thanks for writing about it and spreading the word to others who may benefit. 😉

Debbie's picture

I’m So Glad You’re Ready to Check It Out!

 

Renn:

I’m so glad to hear that you’re not only ready, but looking forward to it!  Sometimes it’s hard to push ourselves out the door, but I’ve always been glad once I ventured out. Please let me know when you go. I’d love to hear all about it.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

Joy's picture

CSC

What a wonderful story about how Cancer Support Community came into being! I am a volunteer at our CSC in Bozeman Montana. I also do the FB page and I will be posting this story of yours there. Thanks! So true in what you say here. It’s how I found it…dragging myself to it a little over 5 years ago. I am am a BC survivor too. CSC has been a great support and I am so glad I reached out.
~ Joy

Debbie's picture

I’m So Glad You Reached Out Too – And Now You’re Giving Back!

Hello Joy:

It’s so great that you were able to drag yourself to the CSC over five years ago and now are volunteering there. I’m a huge believer in seeking out support and giving back and that’s exactly what you did!

Thanks for sharing my post on FB and keep up the great work!

Survival > Existence,

Debbie

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