Gilda Radner, and her much-beloved Saturday Night Live comedic characters such as Roseanne Roseannadanna, kept audiences in stitches from the mid-1970s through the actress’s untimely death from ovarian cancer in 1989. Laughter is a gift, and Radner gave most generously. It is in that spirit of giving, and to honor her personal wish that information about her illness be shared to help others fighting cancer, that her husband, Gene Wilder, helped establish Gilda’s Club.
Gilda’s Club is a national network of 22 “clubhouses” dedicated to helping all people living with cancer– patients, their families and friends–free of any financial charges, ongoing obligations or commitments. Local affiliate, Gilda’s Club Westchester*, has welcomed and supported individuals and families in its warmly inviting White Plains clubhouse since opening its signature red doors in 2001.
Help for Bereaving Parents
While Gilda’s Club has a full calendar of regular and ongoing classes, support groups and events, there are often special events as well. And, it’s worth noting, many of these are open to the public without any need of Club Membership. In fact, this coming Monday, April 22nd, from 6 – 7:30 p.m., Gilda’s Club Westchester in partnership with the Bereavement Center of Westchester is hosting a Special Bereavement Parenting Workshop. The workshop will be led by clinical psychologist Dr. Justin Yopp, PhD and psychiatrist Dr. Donald Rosenstein, MD, authors of The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life and co-founders of The Widowed Parent Project.
The Widowed Parent Project began in 2010 with a support group for fathers who had lost their spouses to cancer. From that small original group of widowed men to research that involved more than 400 fathers, to its current commitment to supporting widowed mothers and fathers, the Project is part of the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The highly anticipated evening event is for “parents who have lost a partner to cancer and struggle with experiencing loss as they continue their role as a sole parent.” Yopp and Rosenstein will share their experiences in supporting both widowed fathers and mothers, and provide additional methods for coping with loss of any kind. Children of attendees are invited to come along, and to participate in a concurrent social program facilitated by a professional from Gilda’s Club Westchester’s Children Teens and Families group. Copies of Yopp and Rosenstein’s book will be available for purchase (with all proceeds going to the Widowed Parent Project) and light refreshments will be served.
New Off-Site Cancer Support Group in Northern Westchester
As busy and wonderful as the White Plains clubhouse and its many free programs are and continue to be, Gilda’s Club Westchester’s Director of Clinical Partnerships, Christine Speck, points out that the club’s proximity to people in need can be a deciding factor in determining membership and usage. “Time management is a big part of cancer treatment”, says Speck. Patients have various doctor visits, treatment visits, and also recovery times when they’re just too tired to go anywhere. There’s a lot to consider. Therefore, Speck and her colleague, Programming Manager Debbie Vincent, LMSW, are very excited to announce a new off-site initiative, the Living with Cancer Support Group, especially intended for people in northern Westchester.
Held at the newly renovated Bedford Playhouse, the Group will meet every second and fourth Wednesday from 10–11:30 a.m. beginning in April. It’s worth noting that the Bedford Playhouse is more than a comfortable, convenient locale; it was here that a preview of the thoughtful and moving Gilda Radner documentary, Love, Gilda was screened to great acclaim. The Group “will encourage discussion of personal experiences as well as provide ongoing exploration of emotional and social concerns, while dispensing wisdom and practical advice.” It is open to anyone in active treatment, including those who are not Gilda’s Club Members. Those interested need only sign up ahead of time.
*For further information, please visit Gilda’s Club Westchester website: www.gildasclubwestchester.org