Leslie Cole breast cancer Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee Everyone Has a Cancer Story Nashville


When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, I had heard of Gilda’s Club, but it wasn’t until I started chemo and recognized that my usual ways of managing stress and pain weren’t working that I accepted a friend’s invitation to visit the clubhouse and learn more.

She took me to a “Tapping Out Stress” class and I absolutely loved it! It really helped me process things. I also immediately fell in love with the building. It felt peaceful and safe…safe enough to join, so I went to an orientation.

At orientation, I was still scared…scared I was going to find out I was going to die…but it wasn’t like that at all. Gilda’s Club is so alive. It’s a hopeful place…hope producing. Inspiring. I knew it was where I needed to be.

My next step was to join a Gilda’s Club support group, where a small group of us with different types and stages of cancer come together weekly to talk about the physical, social, and emotional challenges that can come with a cancer diagnosis. I have grown in love with the group. So much so that when I learned an important lesson through my diagnosis and treatment (If you want to do something, do it without letting fear get in your way!), I immediately thought of them…

In my “real life,” I’m a physician, but I’ve always had a passion and talent for art. I wanted to try my hand at painting portraits, so I offered to paint the individuals in my support group. I did a couple and realized I was pretty good. So much so that I was asked if I’d be willing to paint Gilda Radner’s portrait. And I did! Not once, but three times! One hangs in my home, and the two others hang at Gilda’s two Middle Tennessee locations.