Roy and Debbie Meyer lived in Wausau for 30 years before deciding to make the move to Madison. Just a few months later, after they’d left behind their home of three decades, they received that dreaded news: Roy had cancer.

They’d heard about Gilda’s from their neighbors, and Debbie decided to do more research online. They decided to join, and quickly became involved in a variety of programs, from Family Night to educational workshops.

Finding Connection

Roy remembers those early days of their involvement as, “Superbly supportive at a time when we were almost completely alone in Madison.” They quickly made friends in their weekly support groups and the monthly Blood Cancer support group, and share that they remain friends with many of these folks today. 

“You go through difficult emotions after diagnosis. Gilda’s was really helpful with that because you found other people going through the same thing,” Roy shares. Debbie recalls how helpful it was to have members of their groups that were in different phases of their treatments, so they could compare experiences and have a “heads up” about what may lay ahead.

Paying It Forward

After first walking through Gilda’s red doors in 2013, Roy and Debbie became involved in other ways. They’ve attended Gilda’s Backyard BBQ and Gilda’s Run/Walk, Roy became a Gilda’s Ambassador, they joined the Red Door Society, and they recently joined Gilda’s Legacy Circle.

When asked why they’ve chosen to support Gilda’s Club philanthropically, they share, “Gilda’s gave us so much that we thought we need to stay involved…to try to pay it forward in a way. Gilda’s Clubs are really something special. I found in the support groups people dealing with the most difficult situation in life with a lot of grace, a lot of courage. That’s a gift to somebody diagnosed with cancer. You’re not alone.”

Each of them share how valuable it was to have a “playbook” in dealing with the uncertainty a cancer diagnosis brings. This is a thought that they have had now as they spend time playing with their grandchildren: That Gilda’s taught them how to live in the present.

Roy shares, “Almost everybody has had somebody in their life affected by cancer. You want to support those things in life that really make a difference. Gilda’s is one of them.”

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