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Frequently Asked Questions


Who is Gilda’s Club named for, and who founded it?

Gilda’s Club in named in memory of comedian Gilda Radner (best known for her work on NBC's Saturday Night Live), who died from cancer in 1989. Her husband, actor Gene Wilder, and her cancer psychotherapist, Joanna Bull, founded Gilda’s Club in 1991 along with film critic Joel Siegel, actor/singer Mandy Patinkin and several of Gilda’s friends. The first Gilda’s Club opened its signature red door in New York City in 1995.


What is the philosophy of Gilda’s Club?

The philosophy of Gilda’s Club is to provide an emotional and social support community as an essential complement to medical care for people with cancer, as well as for the families and friends who surround them.

Is there pressure to be positive at a Gilda’s Club?

Absolutely not. Gilda’s Club is based on respect for every person’s way of living with cancer.


To be a member, do you have to be referred by a medical facility?

No. Most people hear about Gilda’s Club through word of mouth, from other members and from people who know about the organization. Referrals are also made by physicians and healthcare professionals. However you hear or learn about Gilda's Club, you are welcome to become a member!

Are there any exceptions to accepting a person with non-cancer diagnosis?

The mission of Gilda’s Club is to provide a support community for people who have cancer, their families and their friends. It is not part of our mission to serve people with other diseases, however worthy they might be. By altering our mission, we would be forced to dilute the focus of our program.

Is there any charge for membership?

No, everything is absolutely free of charge and members are not solicited for donations by any Gilda’s Club affiliate without permission.


Is Gilda’s Club just for women with ovarian cancer?

No, it is for men and women of all ages living with all types of cancer, as well as for adolescents and children and their families and friends.

What kind of activities takes place at Gilda’s Club?

Men, women, children, friends and family meet to learn how to live with cancer, whatever the outcome. Support and networking groups, lectures, workshops, social events and a structured program for young children through teens help all members build their own unique and customized community of support.

Is Gilda’s Club residential?

Gilda’s Clubs are non residential. Regardless of location, Gilda’s Clubs have a warm and welcoming homelike-atmosphere where members can relax and feel comfortable in a non-medical setting. Though design and style varies by location, all clubhouses have Support Group Rooms for weekly sessions facilitated by licensed, mental-health professionals; Noogieland - a playroom with specialized programs for kids and teens; a Community Meeting Room, with nearby kitchen for exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and art projects; potluck suppers, joke fests, lectures and other social events.

Is Gilda’s Club modeled after any existing cancer support programs?

Gilda’s Club is a unique program that was created out of the many experiences Joanna Bull encountered during her career as a cancer psychotherapist. In the past, Joanna served as director of both The Wellness Community and the former Center for the Healing Arts, from which elements of the program are derived and evolved.

How is Gilda’s Club funded?

Private individuals, corporate sponsors and foundations provide enormous direct and in-kind support for Gilda’s Club affiliates.

Does the medical community support Gilda’s Club?

Gilda’s Club affiliates partner with the local medical community to insure that all people impacted by cancer learn about the free program of support at Gilda's Club Kansas City. Local medical providers are frequent presenters at Gilda's Club lectures and workshops, which are open and free to all.

What is the role of the Cancer Support Community?

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) is the headquarters of the Gilda’s Club and Wellness Community network. The CSC staff works around the world to start and sustain Gilda’s Clubs and Wellness Communities and to advocate for the importance of emotional and social support for anyone touched by cancer. CSC and its affiliates rely entirely upon the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to fulfill their missions.

Does Gilda’s Club have a resource library?

Yes Gilda’s Club Kansas City has a resource library offering a range of books on topics pertinent to cancer as well as pamphlets, community resources and a computer for members to use.