Gilda's Club Greater Toronto
Our Impact Why We Exist
In Ontario, someone is diagnosed with cancer every eight minutes and the disease is currently the leading cause of death in our province. About 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime (Canadian Cancer Society: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015).
In Toronto, cancer appears 3 times in the City's top ten leading causes of death (lung, colon, and lymph/blood).
- Toronto's Vital Signs Report 2015
Along with an aging population and increasing life expectancy, we also have leading-edge cancer detection and treatments in Ontario that result in more people being diagnosed earlier and living longer with cancer. This also creates an increasing demand to meet the social and emotional needs of individuals impacted by the disease. Research shows that people, who receive psychosocial support, experience a better quality of life and may have improved clinical outcomes.
The Importance of Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto
Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto is a place where children, teens and adults whose lives have been touched by cancer, along with their family and friends, can feel they are part of a welcoming community of support.
Few clinical services invite the patient’s support networks into the support process and even fewer are completely free of charge. This is where Gilda’s Club makes an important difference by providing an inclusive program in a home-like setting, of social, emotional and practical support, education and social interaction for the “whole family”-an essential component of the cancer care plan and complement to medical treatments.
“Gilda’s Club is the missing link in the cancer care system…”
Dr. Patrick J. Gullane, MB, FRCSC, FACS, FRACS (Hon),
(Otolaryngologist, University Health Network)
Our Story What We Do
Gilda’s Club, named after the famous comedienne Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live fame who died of cancer in 1989, was created because of Gilda’s wish that no one should have to face cancer alone. Gilda understood that it takes a community to support people who are living with the disease. They need a welcoming place to come together, to access support, advice and information.
The first Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in 1995 and Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto opened its signature red doors in 2001 in the historic Old Fire Hall on Lombard Street. This location had been home to Second City where Gilda Radner got her start in comedy. In 2011 Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto moved to 24 Cecil Street, much closer to the hospitals on University Avenue adding convenient access for patients using our services. There are now over 20 Gilda’s Clubs in North America.
As our name suggests, a key part of Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto is the “clubhouse” and like any club, our clubhouse is the focal point of our community. It was purposely designed to convey a relaxing, inviting home-like ambiance. Whether it’s the large community space or the cozy support rooms, all areas have been thoughtfully put together with comfortable furniture, ambient lighting and calming decor to make the clubhouse feel as if you are in someone’s home. Many people state that when they walk through the door they breathe a sigh of relief and express the calmness they feel from just being in the space.
The investment in the clubhouse to provide a restful atmosphere was intentional as the ‘feeling of the house’ is an integral part of the programs we offer. It allows us to provide programs in a safe and peaceful space which encourages members to express themselves in an open way. Members have commented that since they spend significant time in hospital that it’s refreshing to be able to attend programming in this type of setting.
Our Programs How We Do It
Programs We Offer
Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto has a diverse calendar of programming for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends. Gilda’s Club members are given the tools and information they need to help them create their support plan. By being part of the Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto community, members are able to draw strength and the collective wisdom of people sharing similar life experiences.
Gilda’s offers a vast array of cancer support and members can choose the format that works best for them. Some select traditional cancer support groups, while others choose art and wellness workshops or educational programs where they can learn new skills.
Our cancer support program is a combination of formal and informal activities:
- Support - Traditional support groups faciliattated by mental health professionals or child life specialists cover the full spectrum for all ages - members with a specific diagnosis, friends and family members of someone living with cancer and bereavement groups for members who have lost loved ones to the disease.
- Education - Lectures and workshops, led by skilled professionals provide information and answers to questions about managing cancer, its treatment and side effects as well as the practical issues experienced by so many living with the disease.
- Healthy Lifestyles – A wide variety of activities include mind-body stress-reduction, moderate exercise, nutritional awareness, cooking demonstrations and creative art-based workshops.
- Social Connections - Events that promote social interaction, play, and humor i.e. Pot luck dinners, game days and holiday events for adults and children.
- Resources and Referrals - Resource materials, information sessions and assistance in identifying other resources in the community.
- Digital Storytelling – This innovative digitally supported arts-based program provides children, teens, adults and seniors with an opportunity to utilize technology to tell their personal stories and learn how to use online resources and develop technology skills.
Examples of videos created in our Digital Story Telling programs by members providing permission can be viewed on our YouTube network: http://www.youtube.com/user/GildasClubGTTV
Quotes from our Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto members:
“My doctors made sure I lived, but Gilda’s Club gave me my life back.”
“I'm trying to find the words to express how wonderful your organization is, but truly you have left me speechless. Thank you for your sensitive support, it is amazing!”
“I hesitated coming to Gilda’s Club – now my only regret is that I didn’t come sooner.”
“For me, Gilda’s Club is about living… living with cancer, even when I’m afraid of dying.”
What You Can Do
Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto receives no direct government funding and relies on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations as well as our special fundraising events. We also encourage our supporters to host community events for us where proceeds raised will be directed to Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, ie community BBQ, Garage sale, dinner party, a bowling night, etc…Membership at Gilda’s Club and all of our programs are provided free of charge to our members.
Almost 2,000 individuals made a total of 8,635 visits to Gilda’s Club in 2015 and the numbers continue to grow each year.
At Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, we are committed to building a community of positive support. We continuously seek innovative, creative, and collaborative programs that meet the ongoing and changing needs of our members.
Your support would help ensure that the thousands of individuals and families touched by cancer who reach out to Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto each year will not have to face cancer alone.
To donate go to www.gildasclubtoronto.org and click the donate button or call 416-214-9898 x 205.