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Madison chapter of Gilda's Club changes name amid opposition


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Madison chapter of Gilda’s Club celebrated its new name Thursday, amid opposition from those who felt it’s erasing Gilda Radner’s memory.

The group is now called the Cancer Support Community of Southwest Wisconsin, after it decided to drop the name of the person whose death inspired the creation of the group over two decades ago.

“Saturday Night Live” comedian Gilda Radner faced her cancer with hope and humor – and her plight encouraged others to face their cancer in the same way. But Radner’s been dead for 23 years. And Madison director Lannia Stenz said the name Gilda’s Club is confusing to the younger cancer patients who’ve never seen her on TV – and it creates confusion that keeps patients from seeking the group’s services.

But lots of us still remember Radner and her numerous funny characters – and some have criticized the Madison group’s name change.

Mark Warneke of Arlington Texas said on Facebook, “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.”

In 2009, Gilda’s Club merged with The Wellness Community – and the name of the national headquarters was changed to the Cancer Support Community. Local groups were given the option of taking that name or keeping Gilda’s Club. And amid the Madison controversy, a number of Gilda’s Clubs around the country say they won’t change their names.