The first meeting of the Women’s Writing Connection took place in August 2013. Since its inception, the group has shifted and changed. New members joined when space became available. Through the years, we have lost three members to cancer. Each was a vibrant, loving, caring, wonderful woman who left her mark through her written and spoken word—friends who will forever remain in our memories.
Our meetings consist of us sharing the writing we’ve done based on the assigned prompts. Occasionally, we talk about cancer and how it has affected each of us, which has gradually developed into a support system none of us have found anywhere else.
Currently, our group has five women and Merle Saferstein, our facilitator. Over time, each of us has become a skillful writer and several of us have published books.
When asked to write what the Women’s Writing Connection in Gilda’s Club means to us, we’ve had a variety of thoughts which we are happy to share with you.
Lindsay: “At the end of each session, we collectively come up with eight disparate words which we then put into a paragraph or two and, in some cases as we lovingly challenge one another to use all the words in one sentence! In keeping with that exercise which we all enjoy, my words to describe our writing group are: great, gregarious, gifted, giving, gaggle, gals, grateful, group. The words all starting with 'G' are to honor Gilda Radner. My sentence is: We are a gaggle of gals, gregarious by nature; a great and grateful group both gifted and giving. The definition of gaggle describes us: an often noisy or disorderly group or gathering. I am sure the Gilda's staff can hear the laughter upstairs."
Audrey: “Walking into Gilda’s Club, I did so with a bit of apprehension. Having received no information on the group, I didn’t know if we’d be a good match with so many variables to consider. I was looking for a group where I’d be able to cultivate my writing skills and develop a safe place to say my truth. The thread that binds us is strong, woven from the fibers of trust, love, and respect. A bond, formed by the story of cancer, grows richer with each meeting.
My good fortune, our good fortune at Gilda’s is a facilitator who inspires and provides calm when there’s a storm. And, as we ride the emotional and devastating roller coaster, we hold tight together.”
Kathy: “I walked into Gilda‘s Club in 2013, not knowing much about it—only that I loved Gilda Radner and like her, I had ovarian cancer. The world that Gilda’s Club opened for me was beyond my expectations. At the Red Door luncheon, I had met Merle Saferstein, who told me about the writing class. I joined shortly after. Little did I know what avenues would open for me when I started in this class. Having always suppressed my feelings by numbing them out, I started writing and allowing my feelings to come through. I love the ladies in this group, and I’ve learned so much from them. We’ve shared from such a soul level that has been so important in my life. I am grateful!”
Jaes: “I first called Gilda’s Club in 2012 after my diagnosis and surgery for breast cancer. I was looking for support and a way to handle what was happening. I was immediately interested in the writing class and signed up on a waiting list. A year later, a new writing group formed, and I found a home with the deep support I really needed at Gilda’s Club.
Life is so much better now since I attend the women’s writing group where we share honesty and love. This meaningful connection with others would not have occurred had I not gone through cancer. There is nothing good about cancer, but it brought me to Gilda’s Club and the women’s writing group. I am grateful for this.
I think without Merle and our writing group, I would not have developed emotionally with the writing skills I needed to have written the book I just published in late September. My book is doing well and so am I. Merle encourages the women in our group to write from their hearts. I am grateful for Gilda’s Club creating a space and time for us to live more meaningful and enjoyable lives because of our loving, safe, creative, funny, and heartfelt writing group. My life is immeasurably enriched.”
Julie: “Amidst the turmoil of the outside world, we have created a sanctuary where we can be our truest selves. We have all battled or are still battling cancer and its aftermath, yet that is seldom the focus.
We come alive amongst one and other as we share the most profound parts of ourselves through our writing. Together we have navigated feminism, politics, racism, religion, female friendships, love, and, of course, central to it all—our love of writing and storytelling.
There is something sacred about this group. I have a feeling that when I look back upon my life, it will be one of my most meaningful landmarks. What started out as a safe haven, when I was so very broken, has evolved into a sanctuary of friendship and growth in unimaginable, wonderful directions.
There are magical moments in life where a small group of strangers become friends—then, even more poignant when that group of friends becomes ‘us.’ That intimate connection where you find in this often cold world, a new kind of family. The parts of ourselves that our biological ties don’t always see or understand or wish to discuss.
A place where my truth can be boldly, unapologetically spoken—no matter how raw and unpolished, knowing we will be understood, sometimes questioned, but ultimately always embraced.”