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    Gilda’s On The Go

    Melanie Atwood Executive Director of Gilda’s Club of Evansville, part of Cancer Support Community 01/11/2018
    I’m thrilled to tell you about an expanded relationship between Gilda’s Club and Deaconess Cancer Services that will help cancer patients and their families receive important support services. Gilda’s On The Go will bring healthy lifestyle programs and activities directly to patients at the Chancellor Center for Oncology.
    Gilda’s Club
    Before I get into specifics of our new program, let me give you a brief history of Gilda’s Club. We exist to support cancer patients and their families and friends through the entire cancer journey—from being diagnosed and treated to experiencing recurrence, the possible loss of a loved one and living beyond cancer. Gilda’s Club is named after Gilda Radner, one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. It is a national organization with local chapters throughout the country.

    The Evansville club opened our signature red doors in February, 2014. Since that time, we have had 11,000 people come in seeking a service. Our current membership, those who are actively involved and participating in programming, is about 500 people. That number changes with new members all the time.
    Bringing Services to the Patient
    We (Gilda’s Club) have had a strong relationship with Deaconess Cancer Services since our very beginning. Deaconess and its leadership helped us open our doors and over the years, we’ve been involved in special cancer/oncology initiatives at Deaconess, participated in various events for cancer patients, etc. 

    As we talked to patients and their families, it became clear that there was a gap between a Deaconess referral to Gilda’s Club for support services and the patient actually going to Gilda’s Club and receiving those services. What people tell us is when they’re in active treatment—literally fighting the good fight—they are incredibly busy, tired and distracted. They may know about us (a little) but don’t have the mental or emotional margin to come looking for us. Additionally, getting in the car and “going one more place” can feel overwhelming to a person with a long to-do list of appointments and treatments.

    To better meet patient and family needs, Deaconess invited Gilda’s Club to provide services on site at the Chancellor Center for Oncology on the Deaconess Gateway Campus. By providing these services at the point of care—Chancellor Center for Oncology—we’re bringing the support, camaraderie, education, and even fun to patients where and when they need it most. We have always helped improve the emotional and social well-being of patients when they came to us, but now we’re bringing the services to them. It’s Gilda’s… on the go!
    What Services will be Provided?
    The programming at Gilda’s Club consists of 5 core components:
    • Support groups
    • Educational workshops
    • Healthy lifestyle activities
    • Social events
    • Resources and referrals
    Within each of these categories are various activities to help the patient and those who love them, learn to live their best life while living with cancer. All of our activities are customized to meet the needs of Gilda’s Club members. We want you and your family to get something out of our programs so we ask for your input and feedback.

    Some of the first activities offered on-site at the Chancellor Center for Oncology include yoga (part of healthy lifestyle activities) and new member meetings. The meetings are introduction sessions to inform you of what Gilda’s Club can offer as well as finding out what new members need.

    Over time, we plan to offer support groups, additional healthy lifestyle activities, and educational programming that will include Deaconess experts sharing helpful knowledge. We will also expand our individual support services to give people one-on-one attention with our program team members.
    Next Steps
    Right now at Gilda’s Club, we’re working on a program outline and schedule for services at Chancellor. 
    To learn more about Gilda’s Club, visit If you or someone you love is a Deaconess Cancer Services patient and you’d like to talk to us about programming you’d like to see at Chancellor Center for Oncology, please call us at 812-402-8667.

    You can also watch the Deaconess class and events calendar at, for current and future Gilda’s Club programming.
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