Say the famous funny name “Gilda Radner” and many people will instantly remember the crazy characters this brilliant comedian created on “Saturday Night Live”: Baba Wawa, Roseanne Roseannadana, and Miss Emily Litella, to name just three. But Gilda is also remembered for her brave fight against ovarian cancer, which took her life in 1989 at 42 years old. Shortly after her death, Joanna Bull and Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder, decided to create a cancer support center in her honor and christened it “Gilda’s Club,” launching the first location in New York City. Today there are more than 20 active chapters of Gilda’s Club—some of which go by the name “Cancer Support Community” after the 2009 merger of Gilda’s Club and The Wellness Community.
In 1999, four women from the Palm Springs Valley, whose lives were all touched in some way by cancer, founded the Desert Cities Gilda’s Club. Their tiny get-togethers of support chats have now grown into a full-fledged operation that helps cancer patients and their friends and family, whether male or female, young or old. Recently, the club moved from its nicely appointed space in Cathedral City to an even nicer and more expansive facility in Palm Desert. This has allowed the Club to grow even larger, and to offer additional programs, including many for the Latino community.
Those of us who live and visit the Palm Springs Valley are very fortunate to have great medical facilities, including my beloved Eisenhower Medical Center here in Rancho Mirage. But cancer medical treatment is only the beginning when it comes to the wellness of those dealing with the disease. Gilda’s Club offers so many support groups it’s hard to even list them all, but they include gatherings for those living with cancer, those newly diagnosed, couples with cancer, friends and family members of those with cancer, life after treatment, and life after loss. There are also myriad programs that encourage healthy living, such as creative writing, beading, dance/chair exercise, drumming, theater, Improv4Fun, movies, Tai Chi, yoga, and painting. And then there are the lectures and workshops…
Go to its website and check out all that our desert’s Gilda’s Club has to offer, and keep in mind that this wonderful organization is always looking for volunteers and charitable giving. This group is one more reason why I love living in the Palm Springs Valley. www.gildasclubdesertcities.org