Here’s a member’s story from Gilda’s Club Madison

To show you what we are striving to do in New Hampshire:

My name is Kim. I’m 49 years old, a mother, wife, friend, and 6-year cancer survivor. I’m writing to share how Gilda’s Club Madison helped me pursue my cancer path on my terms with laughter and fun.

My family and I aren’t the sort to wallow when dealing with tough stuff. For instance, when I was going through my breast cancer treatment and reconstruction surgery, my friends and family threw me a Bye-Bye Boobies Party, which included a cake. The night ended with my 89-year-old grandfather saying, “Good luck with your remodeling!” Gilda’s Club met me where I was, laughter and all.

One of the best things my family learned at Gilda’s was that there are real health benefits from laughing. Laughter Club is open to the public and I think everyone should try it. I became a member because I had so many questions about cancer and treatment. I wanted support from others that had already gone through it. I’m still a member because I want to share the experiences I went through and pay it forward to new members. A lot of people don’t realize that ongoing support is important! Gilda’s offered support not only for me, but my whole family.

On Tuesday evenings my then 3-year-old and I would go to the family support night. We’d eat a great volunteer-made dinner, and then go to our own support groups. My group was for men and women dealing with any kind of cancer. My son would learn about cancer with other kids. Attending those groups helped us have some really important conversations. Gilda’s isn’t just about support groups. I learned how to knit and crochet, which helped me pass the time after surgery and in waiting rooms. I also learned how to cook healthier, which my family really likes. My favorite skill, which I still use, is relaxation and guided imagery. I use it daily!

Why do I choose to tell my story? Not because I’m a great writer or because I like speaking in front of people. Sharing my story has been therapeutic for me and it’s my hope others will learn from my experiences. Most of all, I want to make sure people know they don’t have to go through cancer alone! Gilda’s is my safe place, my home away from home – and it can be yours, too, if you need them.