Blog

Meet Susan – A story of love and support

Jess Louwagie June 27, 2019

Susan’s story is one of love and support. It’s about a meaningful, personal journey that she shared with her husband Bill, who passed away not too long ago, after living with metastatic prostate and lung cancer.

You may remember reading about Trisha and her family, and how Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is helping her handle living with cancer while still being a good mom to her children. Or about how we have helped Sharon find the support she needs while being a caregiver to her son Matt, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 20 and is attending a support group for younger people at Gilda’s Club. Today we have a different story to share, one about learning to live with the loss of a loved one.

Susan’s story is one of love and support. It’s about a meaningful, personal journey that she shared with her husband Bill, who passed away not too long ago, after living with metastatic prostate and lung cancer.

It was Bill’s journey, really; Susan was there to assist. When he was first diagnosed, she told him “I can walk with you, not for you.” She did her best to support him with his challenges while letting him make decisions that best addressed his needs. She was truly fulfilling her wedding vows, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health.”

Susan soon realized that if she was going to continue to help Bill, she had to stay healthy. Living with his cancer had quickly become overwhelming and she needed a place to talk with others who were going through the same experience, those who were also supporting loved ones who had cancer.

Bill encouraged her to come to Gilda’s Club Twin Cities with him. He had discovered Gilda’s Club through the variety of health and exercise classes that we offer, which had helped him in his pursuit of living an active lifestyle, despite having cancer. He once said, “Even though I can say the words that cancer is not a death sentence, I’m not deluding myself from the fact that people do die of cancer. What I try to do is live the most active and healthy life while I am here.”

Bill also had a strong belief that no one should try to go through such a difficult time alone. He knew the support groups at Gilda’s Club would be beneficial to Susan.

Gilda’s Club was like a one-stop shop for them. A place where they could work through emotional or physical challenges and a place where they could get help with nutrition, exercise, education, finances, attorneys…you name it. We are here to support them.

“Gilda’s Club was a lifeline to us, a place that strengthened Bill as an individual and made us stronger as a couple.”

—Susan Smith

All of us at Gilda’s Club understood what Bill and Susan were going through. It made them feel comfortable crying here—or even sometimes laughing. Susan mentioned that she and Bill took advantage of any support that was offered—church, friends, family—but the support they found at Gilda’s Club was especially valuable.

There is no other place in the Twin Cities area that helps not just the individual who has cancer, but also his or her family and friends in such a warm, welcoming environment.

Toward the end, Bill told Susan to take care of herself after he was gone. I think he would be happy knowing that Susan has since transitioned from Gilda’s Club’s Family, Friends and Caregiving Group to the Living with Loss Group, where she has found comfort and is able to express all her feelings with others who can empathize.

Bill loved Gilda’s Club, just as Susan does now. She shared, “The fact that I am still coming here is just another way of him still looking out for me.”

Your support of Gilda’s Club today will allow others like Susan and Bill, Sharon and Matt, and Trisha and her family to receive the services they need to learn to live with cancer—all free of charge. Please give generously today. Thank you.