PHOTOS: Middle Tennessee cancer support club opens second location inside Franklin’s new proton therapy center

PHOTOS: Middle Tennessee cancer support club opens second location inside Franklin’s new proton therapy center

PHOTO: Gilda’s Club President and CEO Sandy Obodzinski and chair Jim Brown help cut the ribbon on the newest cancer support center, located at the Provision Proton Therapy Center in Franklin, on May 15, 2018. / Brooke Wanser


Gilda’s Club of Middle Tennessee celebrated their new Franklin location on Tuesday evening with an open house, food trucks, and cake.

The location is inside the Provision Cares Proton Therapy center, which will open to patients this summer.

An affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, Gilda’s Club provides a gathering place for people with cancer and their families, as well as emotional support resources and mind-body classes and workshops, free of charge.

Sandy Obodzinski, the president and CEO of the club’s Middle Tennessee branch, thanked Sandy Towers for bringing the club to the area 20 years ago.

Towers formed the branch in Nashville after her best friend, Kristy Olson, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 26.

Since then, the club has expanded operations and serves 15 counties in Middle Tennessee from the Nashville location, and now, the Franklin one.

A crowd began to assemble before the official ribbon cutting outside Provision Cares Proton Therapy Center. / Brooke Wanser

The club’s name comes from Gilda Radner, an original cast member on Saturday Night Live, who died after battling ovarian cancer in 1989.

Radner’s husband, Gene Wilder, and her psychotherapist helped found the original Gilda’s Club in New York City.

The Williamson County location is the first to be housed inside a Provision Proton center, a relatively new treatment in the field of cancer in which a cyclotron machine is used to pinpoint cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

Obodzinski said she was approached by Provision’s vice president, David Raubach, who used to serve on the board of a Gilda’s Club sister organization in East Tennessee, nearly two years ago.

“He understood the mission, understood the value of cancer support, and wanted us in this building,” she said.

Over 100 people listened as Gilda’s Club of Middle Tennessee President and CEO Sandy Obodzinski spoke about the new location. / Brooke Wanser

The Middle Tennessee chapter of Gilda’s Club took a trip to Provision’s headquarters in Knoxville 22 months ago, club chair Jim Brown said.

“It was like a Gilda’s Club,” Brown said. “They had all this technology, they had these incredible people, but they had the same thing, they had peace and smiles,” he said. “This is like our family.”

“Cancer is not cool,” Brown finished, “but free cancer support is super cool.”

Williamson Inc. Senior Vice President of Community Relations Nancy Conway opened the official ribbon cutting ceremony. She was joined by a Gilda’s Club staff group with a cumulative 96.5 years of service.

Stray raindrops fell and thunder crackled briefly as a crowd of over 100 people ate dinner from Puckett’s food truck, received face and body paintings, played cornhole, and tasted red velvet cake before touring the newest location.

Gilda’s Club is located in a suite on the second floor of the building, with rooms for therapy and support sessions behind the signature red door.

This girl opted for a stylized image of Gilda on her cheek at the face painting booth. / Brooke Wanser
Some visitors played cornhole, while others waited in line at the Puckett’s food truck. / Brooke Wanser
The “piggy mac” from the food truck. / Brooke Wanser
Cancer center supporters show off the red velvet cake with the center’s signature red door. / Brooke Wanser
Other games included a spin the wheel for prizes. / Brooke Wanser
Wind, cracks of thunder, and a few stray raindrops surprised some before the ceremony began. / Brooke Wanser
Obodzinski thanks the Gilda’s Club staff for their years of service at the Nashville location. / Brooke Wanser
Inside the proton therapy center and through the red door on the second floor, Gilda’s Club takes up residence in Franklin. / Brooke Wanser

About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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