April 9, 2021

A personal story

by Philip Lee

“I became a member of Gilda’s Club Seattle—now Cancer Pathways—in early 2003, a few months after my wife, Karen Chinn, contracted her third cancer, a rare form of carcinoid tumor in her liver. My daughter was eight years old and I didn’t want her to go through the experience alone. We were recommended to Gilda’s after we completed a six-week support group. It was clear that we needed support well beyond six weeks.

We were so taken by the warm space, the kind staff, and the philosophy that we were always welcomed, not tied to a schedule, and services were free. Most important was GCS’s recognition that the entire family, not just the patient, needed support. It created a safe space for us to connect with others with similar experience.

My wife passed away at the end of 2003. GCS helped me cope with my grief as well as gave me strength to grow as a single parent. Later other members of my support group lost their spouse. We were there for each other. We didn’t always have to talk about cancer or our loss. We knew what each other was going through. I felt the work at GCS was so important, not only for myself but for the entire community, that I joined the board to promote the importance of cancer support.

It’s been over 17 years since I became a member of GCS. I have remarried and no longer live in Washington state. Yet GCS continues to play an important part of my life through people I met there who remain among my closest friends, and through the safe space I learned to carry within me that GCS helped nurture.

I’d like to give a special thanks to Anna Gottlieb, who started the organization and guided it with absolute dedication and genuine heart over the last 20 years. She sets the example that everyone who walks through the red door is special. Gilda’s Club/Cancer Pathways will always be an important part of our family.”