Like many beginnings, the inception of Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit was a mix of timing, chance meeting and ultimately one of dedication, commitment and perseverance. It started with eight courageous women: Bernice Gadon, Geri Lester, Sherry Medsker, Maureen Martinez, Marcia Gershenson, Jacqueline Grekin, Ina Kadish and Carol Silverman
These terrific women shared the belief that while medicine works to heal the body, they loved the concept that all men, women and children impacted by cancer should also have access to emotional and social support. Beginning in March 1993, they gathered around their kitchen tables, tapping into their own experiences to create a community of hope, humor and comfort. They worked tirelessly knocking on doors, speaking to community organizations, writing grants and hosting fundraising event after fundraising event to make their dream a reality.
On January 23, 1998, their hard work became evident as Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit opened its beautiful signature red door in Royal Oak for the first time. Ten years later, more than 10,000 members have made a combined 150,000 visits to Gilda’s Club to participate in wellness and support groups, social activities, creative arts and music classes and educational lectures. Because of these eight women and of course the courageous comedian, Gilda Radner, people in Southeastern Michigan have learned to live well and laugh a lot in spite of their diseases.
History of Gilda’s Club and Cancer Support Community
Gilda’s Club was founded in 1991 by Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner’s cancer psychotherapist, together with Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder, with the help of film critic Joel Siegel, actor/singer Mandy Patinkin and several of Gilda’s friends.
The first Gilda’s Club, including a worldwide training center, opened its signature red door in New York City in 1995.
The relationship between the Cancer Support Community and its affiliates, including Gilda’s Clubs, is close but flexible.
- Money that is raised locally stays local.
- The Cancer Support Community hosts an annual Affiliates Conference for networking and education.
About Gilda’s Club
Since 1998, more than 10,000 individuals and families have visited our Clubhouse in Royal Oak or one of our off-site locations with hospital partners around Metro Detroit. Today, we have more than 10,000 members. Our program provides support and networking groups, educational lectures, workshops and social activities for cancer patients, their loved ones, and those who are bereft.