Being told you have cancer is one of the scariest things that can happen to any person, their family and their friends. Fortunately, those in the Coachella Valley have a treasured place to turn to help them navigate all the questions, concerns and care that goes into fighting this disease.
Gilda’s Club Desert Cities has been providing emotional support, education, social connections and resources at no cost to cancer patients and their families since 2004. It is often the first place those who receive this devastating diagnosis turn. This year, the organization is changing its name to CancerPartners, but their commitment to those they serve remains the same.
Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s remember the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and their shining star, Gilda Radner. She entertained us all with her many portrayals, especially her beloved Roseanne Roseannadanna. Radner died from ovarian cancer in 1989, and her widower, Gene Wilder, carried out her personal wish that information about her illness help other cancer victims. The first Gilda’s Club was founded in New York City in 1995.
As the years go by, however, the generation that can really relate to Radner as one of the most iconic comedians of our time is diminishing, and leadership at the desert cities organization felt that the name didn’t truly reflect what the organization is committed to and has grown to become.
“We value the whole concept of working together,” says CEO Maria Elena Geyer, “and CancerPartners embodies that value. As a model of service, we can partner together with others who also serve the cancer community, and it opens the door for our next phase of service.”
While there are still a few Gilda’s Clubs retaining the name, the worldwide organization changed its name as well to Cancer Support Community when it merged with The Wellness Community in 2009. Along with the name change, CancerPartners also discontinued their affiliation with the national organization as they felt the national programs didn’t meet the needs of their local client base.
Supporting their value in unity, CancerPartners also worked with other local cancer support organizations to create Better Together, a strategy to mutually work on community outreach and education. “The intent with Better Together is that the more we join forces, the more people will understand our individual services and the more the community will benefit.” CancerPartners and other members of Better Together will remain operating independently at this time, but as Geyer says, “It opens the door to many possibilities and you never know what the future holds.”
CancerPartners is located at 73555 Alessandro in Palm Desert. For more information call (760) 770.5678 or visit www.CancerPartners.org.