Shout out to Gilda’s Club!

Most of what I post here will be directly about Cancer Care Coloring and the work I’m doing to create at least one, but hopefully two coloring books for people going through cancer therapy. That said, sometimes I’ll be posting more personal blogs about me and what I’m going through in my own “fighting cancer” journey. We all have ups and downs, and if I wanted to focus on less upbeat news I have my share of it (I may have a new metastasized spot on one of my vertebra in the back of my neck 🙄 ). But let’s not get into all that today (that’s it for bad news today… I promise)! Let’s focus more on some of the good… okay, great, things I have going for me during my adventure.

I knew I needed some form of therapy to help me through this. Over the months, as hard as I tried to avoid it, I felt more and more bitter about life, the universe, and the unfairness of it all. As my therapy continued (eight months so far) the feeling of despair started creeping in more and more. I started looking online for support groups and other options to be able to talk and get some of the weight off of my shoulders. I’ve never been a group therapy person, so initially I thought I’d just find a therapist and go the traditional route, but way back in December or January I came across Gilda’s Club’s website. It seemed like just what I needed. Support groups for cancer survivors (and those currently receiving treatment), support groups for those close to us (cancer patients), and all sorts of therapeutic activities (cooking, art, sewing, social gatherings, etc.)… and all 100% free. I really felt like I should become a member, but I’m also pretty anti-social generally, so I filed it into the back of my mind as “something I should really look into closer” and didn’t do anything else with it.

Fast-forward to late March. My spirits were hitting some new lows, and I finally got brave and decided to go to Gilda’s Club for new member orientation and my first group meeting. I’m not going to lie, I was SO uncomfortable at first. I didn’t know if I had it in me to open up and really share what I was going through and how I was feeling. Since my diagnosis I’ve become a different person in quite a few ways, and one of them (good or bad) is how close to the surface my emotions always seem to be now. It takes practically nothing to get me crying (or at least tearing up) and that’s never been me. How am I going to handle a group setting like this without losing my shit? Full disclosure… I totally cried my first meeting and it was absolutely fine. No judgement. Total understanding. Awesome. This is just what I needed!

My newest therapy… Gilda’s Club!

I’m a few weeks in now. The group members (and facilitator) have been beyond amazing! In all of my 51 years of experiencing social interactions I’ve never seen a more accepting, welcoming and helpful collection of people. Seeing and feeling that I’m not alone in my fight and learning from the experiences of others has brought me from some pretty low places to a place where I’m much better able to process what’s going on with me and my loved ones. Sure… I have it pretty bad, but others are dealing with worse. If they can find the time to come and share with the group, give feedback, give advise and be a group friend… then I can open myself up to gaining from that wisdom and kindness.

I hope that no one reading this ever needs the services that Gilda’s Club offers, but if for anyone that does, we’re luck to have it. Trying to get through something like cancer without being able to talk to and engage with others dealing with the same struggle is unnecessary. I know that group therapy isn’t for everyone, but if it’s not for you consider some of the other offerings. This isn’t a “oh… poor me” kind of place. To be honest, and as weird as it sounds, I’ve laughed more at the few groups I’ve attended than I ever would have expected. There’s a relaxed and comfortable vibe to the meetings I’ve attended and with that comes people’s willingness to open up to share funny stories, interesting situations, and learning opportunities. Not everyone talks much, and some people (like me) probably talk a little too much, but that’s up to the individual. Moving forward with my cancer therapy, I see the importance of finding and sharing with others that are going through the cancer fight like me. We’re all part of a “club” that we don’t want to belong to, but at least there’s Gilda’s Club to help us on our journey. That’s it for this episode. Until next time… later tater!

Alex