As a bright, young first year medical student, Jerry Liebermann had his whole life ahead of him. Then, he was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. Initially, he felt doomed. "I was 22 years old and given an average three year survival rate," said Jerry. "I spent the first year being depressed." Jerry had to leave medical school to undergo medical treatment including a bone marrow transplant. No one knew if he'd graduate. Not only did Jerry return to graduate, he also fell in love, got married and had a beautiful daughter. It's been over 30 years since his original diagnosis. Since 1978, Jerry has had two bone marrow transplants and additional therapy to keep him in remission. After his last treatment, he had to retire on disability from his job. "This left me with a lot of time and the potential to offer my skills to organizations that I felt deserving of my time," said Jerry.
Jerry felt it was too painful to volunteer in a clinical setting, so a friend recommended that he visit Gilda's Club Seattle because of its non-clinical, homelike environment. Jerry is now a volunteer and is here 2 to 3 days a week. As a long-term survivor, Jerry is a true 'expert' on living with cancer. Through the Gilda's ph&d program component, he can "give back" by sharing his perspective on the cancer experience. As our volunteer Director of Technology, he designs and maintains the data management systems of the Club. In 2002, he and his ten year old daughter Rebekah modeled in the "Surviving With Style" fashion show to benefit the Clubhouse. Jerry believes that the best support you can get is from your peers who understand what you are going through when you have cancer. When we asked Jerry what Gilda's Club meant, he said, "Gilda's Club is like a dream come true to me. I wish that it had been around when my family and I were facing all the hard times we had been through in the past. Now it feels like a second home and family to me."
Did You Know?
FACT: Gilda's Club membership is free to everyone.
MYTH: People pay to join Gilda's Club.
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