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Originally founded in 1935 as the American Society for the Control of Cancer, Cancer Support Community at Gilda’s Club Rochester has continued to meet the local mission of providing programs and services to those impacted by cancer and their loved ones.

Our Mission

Cancer Support Community at Gilda’s Club uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care.

History of Cancer Support Community at Gilda’s Club Rochester

1935: The American Society for the Control of Cancer is founded in Rochester to raise awareness of cancer in the community through the engagement of local doctors, nurses, patients, and family members.

1945: The American Society for the Control of Cancer took the name of American Cancer Society, a not-for-profit organization funded by United Way dollars.

1959: Local American Cancer Society units across the country terminated United Way affiliations to undertake separate fundraising campaigns.

American Cancer Society units across the country were split in the decision to end these United Way affiliations including the Monroe County Unit. A substantial number of members from the Monroe County American Cancer Society Unit opted to remain under the Community Chest (now United Way) umbrella, resulting in the establishment of a new independent organization named the Monroe County Cancer Association.

The first board meeting of the Monroe County Cancer Association was held in May of 1959 under new Chairman Norman M. Howard.

1963: The organization became the Monroe County Cancer and Leukemia Association to reflect the work being done in the local community in supporting patients with Leukemia.

1977: In an effort to reflect the expansion of services to cover not only Monroe County, but the counties of Wayne, Livingston, Ontario and Orleans, the organization changed names in 1977 to the United Cancer Council of the Genesee/ Finger Lakes Area which was part of a national affiliate program that supported preventive approaches to cancer.

1987: The Monroe County Board of Directors of the United Cancer Council voted unanimously to withdraw from the National United Cancer Council due to fundraising ethics and change the name to Cancer Action, Inc., serving Rochester and the Genesee/ Finger Lakes Region.

The agency still operates legally under this name today.

2000: The Cancer Action Inc. Board of Directors voted to join the ever-growing affiliate Gilda's Club, which is a community organization for people with cancer, their families, and friends.

Local chapters provide meeting places where those who have cancer, their families, and friends can join with others to build emotional and social support as a supplement to medical care.

Free of charge and nonprofit, Gilda's Club of Rochester provided support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events in a nonresidential, homelike setting. The club was named in honor of the original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

Gilda's Club is famous for its signature red doors meant to symbolize Radner's "vibrancy".

2021: As a continuation of the 2009 national merge between Gilda's Club and the Wellness Community which was an international, non-profit organization that provided support and education to people with cancer and those who care for them, the Gilda's Club Rochester Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Cancer Support Community Rochester to better reflect the people and programs offered by the not for profit.

2022: Due to challenges around recognition and branding of the organization, the Gilda's Club name was brought back and combined with the Cancer Support Community name to form the new "Cancer Support Community at Gilda’s Club Rochester."