Click the image below to read the Seattle Times editorial about the opening of our Clubhouse on Capitol Hill – June 30th, 2001
When I was young, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was kept a secret from family and friends; in fact, when my mother went for surgery, she told us and everyone else that she needed inner ear surgery. I heard a lot of whispering in the house, though, and saw a lot of tears. I heard the word cancer when I leaned against my parents’ bedroom door at night. All I knew was that cancer kills you, I believed it was a death sentence. Living with that fear and isolation never left me and I knew I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I wished there was a better way.
Years later, when I first learned about Gilda’s Club, I knew that was the better way. A family program for everyone: for kids, adults, co-workers, and loved ones. What a concept. What took so long? A place where laughter was OK, where crying was OK and where you did not have to feel guilty or scared all the time. A place where everyone got it, they knew what you were feeling. You were not alone. And although I had another job at the time, I knew this was what I needed to focus on.
Together we have built a simple sounding program with huge implications and lifelong impact. We’ve provided tools for moving forward and lessons to carry through life. New friends, new outlooks on life, never having to be alone. That’s what we have built for the past 20 years. That’s what we will go forward with for the next 20 years and the 20 after that.
Simple, yet profound. Simple, yet so needed.
We have added so much to our programs in 20 years. We now have a way to reach high school students, teen writers, people in the workplace, more kids so they don’t have to feel what I felt, more adults, more of everything.
Education is key. Once you hear the words, “you have cancer,” you need to be your own advocate, to learn as much as you can, to participate in your health care. We encourage everyone to find their own path. There is no one right path. But education is key.
We have lost many wonderful friends in 20 years and we are here for their families and loved ones. Our support is ongoing.
I want to honor our first 20 years and I want to thank you for being part of it, for being our partners. This could not have been done alone. It took a city.
It took your hearts and your generosity. Please take pride in what you have accomplished. Take pride knowing that you made sure we were here for our community.
Founder & Executive Director
Cancer Pathways, formerly Gilda’s Club Seattle
This year, we honor 20 years of serving the cancer community with your help. If you have photos or a story to share, email Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org.