Gilda’s Club of Madison WI is on the verge of taking an eraser to a portrait of courage, strength and dignity. Just like that. Poof. Replacing the Gilda’s Club name with Cancer Support Community. They intend to cast aside a world renowned identity that has been established in the hearts of a generation solely because some may not know what a Gilda is. I’ll tell you what a Gilda is. (threateningly)
The board of directors at the Madison chapter of Gilda’s Club claim that younger patients were born after Gilda Radner, don’t know who she was and therefore wont come in their doors. I see their point somewhat. Mount Sinai should probably just be called “Hospital” so as not to confuse mountain climbers. Google, what the hell is that? I suggest “Looky Uppy Place” And naming a Clinic after mayonnaise is just crazy.
Gilda’s Club has long surpassed just being about her, it has grown into an untouchable brand. One thing I know about young people with cancer is they are wise beyond their years and need something above and beyond cancer talk and support initiatives and community involvement. They need lightness. They need to be inspired. They need to know they are special. What they don’t need is the same old words being flung at them day after day. Think for a moment what it must be like to take your cancer to town and share it somewhere in hopes that it will make you feel better. “I’m going to The Cancer Support Community place……yay!” or “I’m going to Gilda’s Club” Whether you like it or not you are now in a club. Still, clubs can be tight and personal and intimate and private and welcoming and so much more that just another program or order of events.
I’m not saying that support and community aren’t vital components to care and wellness but with everything cold and impersonal that comes along with a cancer diagnosis, why remove the warmth and heart from an organization? Why wrap it up in a sterile, itchy blanket like Cancer Support Community. That’s what you do, not who you are.
At the very core of this is a board of directors that miss the discompassionate nature of removing what was built out of uncompromised courage in a day and age where not everything was up for public grabs through social media. This struggle was brought into the public eye by people that loved her, witnessed her pain and embarked on something huge and unprecedented. They gave cancer a face. That’s a million times bigger than a rubber bracelet.
The fan part of me wants to tell a different story. The story of memorizing her records and reciting them verbatim to my friends as we floated around the bay on clear blow up air mattresses. Carol Burnett planted the comedy seed but Gilda Radner made me understand that you needed to water it. The adult female comedian who grew from that kid and was inspired to support children’s and women’s cancer charities is the more important story. I owe this Gilda women a lot and I stand in defence of her name.
If by some remote chance there is one person on that board that secretly wants to fight for this name and legacy, i’m talking to you. Please start swinging. May I suggest you get undressed and show them your wazoo. There’s a start.