My mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer my senior year of high school. For most of her treatment, I supported her from afar while at college. She was 50 at the time and underwent grueling treatment and multiple surgeries to become cancer free.
My mother’s remission lasted 10 years. Her cancer came back when I was again living away from home, this time in Nashville. Again, I supported her from a distance and struggled with how best to be there for her when I physically couldn’t be. On top of that, she was very private when it came to her cancer experience, which left me unsure of how best to support her. My mother passed away in 2015.
In 2017, a friend of mine named Clara invited me to a Gilda’s Club Associate Board happy hour. She knew my experience with cancer and felt I might like to learn more. I’d heard of Gilda’s and knew it had something to do with cancer, but that was it. I ended up really enjoying the evening and did my best to stay plugged in and participate in other Gilda’s events. In 2018, I was invited to join the Associate Board as Chair. Having learned so much about the organization’s mission and support program over the previous year, I knew I wanted to be more involved and eagerly accepted. More than anything, I wanted to help raise awareness of Gilda’s Club as a resource for other young adults whose lives had been touched by cancer.
Whenever I’m at Gilda’s Club, I remember what we went through as a family and individually during the various stages of my mother’s illness, treatment, and passing, and I can’t help but wish we had known a resource like Gilda’s existed. Having a support community such as this may have helped all of us process things more easily.
I heard something on the radio recently that resonated with me. It was something along the lines of: Terrible things happen, but the beautiful, silver lining is that these terrible things can bring people together, create community, and build strength. In many ways, this sentiment is what Gilda’s Club represents to me…the silver lining that came about because of my cancer story. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Gilda’s Club and serve Gilda’s Club and, in doing so, help spread the word about the wonderful things available here.