Gilda's club

MUSCATINE, Iowa — People dealing with cancer in the Muscatine area as well as their loved ones will soon have access to a realm of free services and support.

Erin Williams, the program outreach manager for Gilda's Club of the Quad Cities, said the group will begin offering programs and events in July for the national support organization.

Gilda's Clubs were established in memory of American comedian and original "Saturday Night Live" cast member Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. As she battled cancer, Radner said she appreciated the support she and her family received from The Wellness Community, a non-profit organization that offers emotional support and special programs for cancer patients and their families. Her wish that this same kind of support would be available to all cancer patients was fulfilled when, after her death, her widower, comedian Gene Wilder, co-founded Gilda’s Clubs.

The Gilda's Club nearest Muscatine is located in a large Victorian house on the Mississippi riverfront at 1234 E. River Drive in Davenport. Williams said some Muscatine-area residents come to Davenport and her organization looks forward to serving them and other area residents close to home.

The organization will not be purchasing a headquarters in Muscatine prior to beginning services here, and will work out of Muscatine Community College, 152 Colorado St., as the staff gauges public interest in beginning a local Gilda's Club.

Gilda's Club will begin providing services to the community Friday, June 28, with a workshop for area business owners, work site supervisors and human resource personnel about the legal, emotional and financial aspects related to employees diagnosed with cancer. This first workshop will be held at Trinity Muscatine hospital, rather than MCC, in order to provide easier access to resources at the hospital (see "Details" elsewhere with this story)

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Then, in July, the club will hold workshops and offer a monthly support group for cancer patients and their caregivers at MCC. Both the workshop and support group will be facilitated by a licensed mental health professional. Dates and exact locations will be announced at a later date.

Workshops will include Cancer Transitions, a free two-hour, six-week workshop designed to help cancer survivors manage the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. This workshop will feature expert panelists, including an oncology nurse navigator, nutritionist and physical therapist. Topics will include exercise, relaxation, stress management and nutrition tips. 

They will also offer an exercise program called Healthy-Steps, Moving You to Better Health with the Lebed Method, a movement and exercise program that focuses on the lymphatic system, which is sometimes affected during cancer treatment. This program is for people of all ages and physical abilities, and is designed to improve overall wellness, range-of-motion, balance, strength and endurance, as well as emotional well-being and self-image.

The Gilda's Club staff is also working to coordinate childcare for people who access their services.

There is no charge for Gilda's Club services and workshops.

"Cancer can be expensive," said Williams, "and people who are dealing with cancer have enough to worry about."