I first got to know Gilda’s Club through my mother, Nancy Saturn, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 49, and through her passion to build awareness and support for other cancer survivors, connected with a small group of like-minded Nashvillians to become one of the organization’s founding board members back in 1998. At the time, I was living in New York City and walked by the original Gilda’s Club regularly. I even visited a few times with friends who were dealing with different issues and wanted to learn more about the support available there. Personally, I was able to connect with Gilda’s directly about resources for BRCA genetic testing, which became something I ultimately did in my 30s.
I have always felt a real connection to Gilda’s because of my mother’s unending passion for the organization, but also because 10 years after my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He had a difficult road for many years and leaned on Gilda’s, too, and I knew how important having that support was for him.
A few years after my father’s diagnosis, when his disease became untreatable, I came home to help my mother care for him, and soon after his death, in a horrible turn of events, my mother’s breast cancer came back and was terminal. So, I spent over a year managing all of the care, including a hospice care plan for both of my parents at the end of their lives. I relied heavily on the team at Gilda’s to get me through it. There is so much to prepare for that is specific to those in hospice care that I was unaware of… I needed a place to go to learn about the process, and be taken care of during this dark time in my life. The Gilda’s team educated me, all the while supporting my emotional needs. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through that year without the love and support of the Gilda’s Club community. Having returned to New York, I promised myself if I ever moved back to Nashville, I would do whatever I could to ensure others know about and support their incredible, free resources.
My husband and I moved back to Nashville with our kids a couple years ago, and I’ve done just that. In addition to providing help kicking off the Gilda’s Club Songwriter series through my marketing role at SESAC, I also provide a platform at The American Artisan Festival for Gilda’s to share their mission and raise additional funds via art donated at the event. I was honored to have been invited to join the Gilda’s Club Board of Directors in July. I couldn’t be happier to be serving in this way.
I want the world to know about Gilda’s Club. That everything they offer is free. That “cancer support” has so many definitions… It could be that you need a support group because your mother is sick, or maybe you are in treatment for cancer and just want to take a yoga class with someone who understands what you’re going through. Or perhaps you want to learn healthy cooking habits on your journey to wellness. You can’t imagine the range of possibilities that exist behind that red door.
I can’t say enough about Gilda’s Club….the place…the people…the support…the community.