A Conversation with Our Clubhouse
Posted October 02, 2018
Recently, Ella Antimarino sat down with Dani Wilson and Christine Lee-Zirkle of Our Clubhouse to learn more about their mission and opportunities for those battling cancer and their families. Learn about it in the interview below!
What is Our Clubhouse?
Our Clubhouse, formerly Gilda’s Club Western PA, is a nonprofit that provides free support to anyone touched by cancer. From diagnosis, through treatment, and in the transition to life beyond cancer, Our Clubhouse is here to help prevent and manage the adverse effects of the illness. The programs offered by Our Clubhouse are no cost to anyone living with cancer or their friends and family. These include:
- Creative Expression classes such as painting, creative writing, and jewelry-making that allow members to learn a new skill and reduce stress;
- Clinical Support sessions for children, teens, families, and adults as well as support groups that cover topics such as specific diagnosis, living with cancer, bereavement, and ongoing post-treatment concerns;
- Education delivered through guest lecturers that cover a variety of topics such as nutrition, mental health, exercise, medical treatments, side effects, and alternative therapies;
- Family and Youth activities customized to the child’s age and include clinical support, social activities, and workshops;
- Health and Wellness workshops such as yoga, meditation, and healthy cooking classes to help improve the well-being of mind and body;
- Social Activities that provide a great atmosphere to celebrate every day while building a community of support.
How can joining a support group early in your diagnosis change your outlook?
When an individual first receives a cancer diagnosis it is common to feel a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. The individual may have questions that only another on the same journey can answer. A support group gives that person a chance to ask questions, hear from others with a similar experience, and a place to share anxieties. When connecting with a support group early on, an individual can help to strengthen their support system which can give them more tools in their toolkit.
What different support groups do you offer?
- Blood Cancers Support Group
- Breast Cancer Support Group
- Bereavement Support Group
- Grief Gathering for Youth
- Living Live Post Cancer Treatment
- Living Life with Loss
- Living Life with Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Myelodysplastic Syndrome Support Group
- Multiple Myeloma Support Group
- Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Support Group
- Pancreatic Cancer Support Group
- Pediatric Cancer Bereavement Support Group
- Prostate Cancer Support Group
Can you describe the most memorable moment you have experienced at an Our Clubhouse event or support group?
At Our Clubhouse, we are here to help people through the pain, fear, and uncertainty that comes with cancer. Being able to connect with others who share a similar journey is a deeply meaningful experience that can improve your well-being. There are so many wonderful moments that we have witnessed, but for me, the most memorable moments occur when I see people connecting in a way that will bring them happiness, peace, or a new sense of camaraderie. So often, the clubhouse is also full of joy and laughter. A few weeks ago, we had a New Member Meeting, where new members are invited to get together and learn about our community. One participant shared that he lived alone and didn’t have close friends nearby. The day after the New Member meeting, he wrote a note of gratitude and told us that he no longer felt alone and he had hope for his future. That is everything to us. That is why we are here. We envision a community where no one has to face cancer alone and we work hard every day to see that vision realized.
Can you explain the, “Over the Edge” event in Pittsburgh?
Over the Edge is our exciting fundraiser that takes place each fall. Up to 60 brave people fundraise for Our Clubhouse and earn the opportunity to rappel 26 stories down the Oliver Building in downtown Pittsburgh! Those touched by cancer and their families face fear every day. With Over the Edge, we provide a safe and controlled environment with certified rope experts to allow rappelers to symbolically face their fears. They bravely step to the edge and lean into their own support system before rappelling down a Pittsburgh skyscraper and observing the city from above. We make it a celebration too! Rappelers land to friends, family, and festivities on the street below. You can find more information about Over the Edge 2019 here.
How can someone get involved with Our Clubhouse?
Call us at 412-338-1919 (Pittsburgh) or 724-221-6182 (Greensburg) or visit www.ourclubhouse.org. Membership is free and open to anyone affected by cancer. To become a member, complete a New Member form on our website under Find Support or at one of our two locations. Once you have completed the New Membership Process, you will have completely free access to all of our programs and be able to gather with others to learn more about living with cancer, share experiences, support one another, and enjoy some laughter along the way.
We are able to offer a number of programs and activities in part because of our dedicated volunteers. If you would like to volunteer at Our Clubhouse, call Laura in Pittsburgh (412-338-1919) or Amy in Greensburg (724-221-6182).