Gilda Radner, who rose to fame in the ’70s and ’80s as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and died of ovarian cancer in 1989, had a club formed in her honor by friends and family to support others dealing with the disease. With chapters all over the world, “Gilda’s Club” has been a hugely successful force in the lives of those suffering from cancer, but now, a branch of the club says they want to change the name to Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin because many of the patients who attend were born after Radner’s death, and might not know who she was.
Lannia Syren Stenz, the executive director of the Madison, Wisconsin chapter, said, “We are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors.”
But many disagree, saying that to assume young people have never heard of Radner–or been inspired by the way she dealt with her diagnosis–is simply false. Others say that it’s disrespectful to her legacy to remove her name from the club and will only have negative side-effects.
“The only educating you’re doing is teaching kids that when they die from cancer, their name will be erased from history in 20 years because the next generation doesn’t know who they are. Way to give them hope!” said Gilda’s Club supporter Mark Warneke.
While the change hasn’t been set, there are 55 other chapters around the world which have been given the option to change their name. So far, 20 have kept “Gilda’s Club” as their official title.