Stock photograph of the famous World War II poster "We Can Do It!" showing Rosie the Riveter wearing a red bandana and flexing her muscles against a yellow background, created by J. Howard Miller. The woman that modeled for this image was actually named Geraldine Doyle and was a real riveter in the 1940s.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer accounts for only 4% of cancer in women, but due to its lethal nature, it is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in women. Since screening for ovarian cancer is currently inadequate, it’s important for women to be aware of this killing disease, its signs and symptoms and to actively campaign for research for a cure.  Gilda Radner valiantly fought her Ovarian Cancer and her husband Gene Wilder founded Gilda’s Club in her honor.  What follows is my love letter to Gilda.

At a time in my life when women were not even allowed to wear pants to work, I turned on late night television and discovered SNL and Gilda Radner.

I was completely amazed to watch a woman my age on a comedy show holding her own.  And, she was holding her own against men who would become the giants of the comedy industry.  She was funny and smart and not afraid to take chances.  Gilda did all of this and at the same time was the equal of the male comedians.  She didn’t use her sexuality, she wasn’t afraid to not be portrayed as pretty, she portrayed old and young and always seemed to be winking at you when she did.

Later in her life when Gilda got ovarian cancer, she again was fearless.  She took herself out in public and discussed her illness.  Again, this was something that was not done at that time.  You dealt with your illness behind closed doors back in the day.

To quote Amy Poehler, “What Gilda did is she accepted that life is ridiculous and just said well f… it!  What else are we going to do?  It’s beautiful, it’s crazy, it’s disappointing, it’s lonely, but why don’t we live while we’re alive.”

Gilda did all of that and was an inspiration.



I invite you to add a link to your post about an inspiring woman.


About Bernadette

I live in the small town of Haddonfield, NJ. I am at an age in my life when I seem to spend time thinking and musing about life. These musings are usually stimulated by my walks through Haddonfield, my reading of books and fellow bloggers, and my interaction with my group of fabulous family and friends.

20 Responses

  1. Thank you Bernadette for introducing us to Gilda. Her positive and strong personality
    is deeply inspiring. Taking on all competition in her work and then bravely go out to the public about her ovarian cancer. Gilda Radner deserves her place in your column.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I confess I had never heard of Gilda Radner until I read of her death from ovarian cancer and it was only because she was the wife of Gene Wilder that it came to my attention. So often the case of successful and not so famous women, they become noticed because they are the spouse or daughter of a successful man. Being British, I never saw and still have never seen SNL, but I read about it often, currently of course in terms of Alex Baldwin’s performances. Gilda sounds like she had a real spark and was loved by many who only saw her on tv. I know someone who survived this disease through the sheer good fortune of being treated for something else and a clever doctor noticing it early enough to treat it. Thank you for placing her front and centre and for publicising this silent killer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I became aware of Gilda quite early – and was fortunate to have met her and the rest of the first SNL cast (another story).

    To my mind Gilda’s comic talent was larger than life, and in America her fame came NOT because she was “so-and-so’s wife.” She was extremely well known here as the result of SNL and, to some, her star eclipsed Wilder’s. She may well have become the one we all remember if she hadn’t died so young.

    What’s really tragic about her death is that physician ignorance (and years of failure to listen from belief) allowed her cancer to become so advanced. She had been trying to conceive for YEARS, and it could have – I’ll go so far as to say SHOULD have — been caught much earlier. Medically tragic and unconscionable.

    What’s even more distressing is that not a great deal has changed since her death. That’s the most important part of the story – tho’ not quite so uplifting.

    Thanks for a great tribute to an amazing woman, Bernadette. Her actions, even as she knew she was dying because her cancer was caught way too late, were remarkable. Her kindness to others was legion.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Bernadette. Unfortunately we must often take charge AGGRESSIVELY – insisting on being taken seriously, *especially* when doctors try to make us feel like hypochondriacs.

        We need to call them out on that nonsense the nano-second they do that “there-there baby” crap – and insist on a second opinion with a more enlightened and well-informed doctor (in exactly those words). The consequences for prioritizing their feelings over our health (and lives, as in Gilda’s case) are simply too severe.

        Women’s health issues are unlikely to change for the better as long as so many of us remain meekly compliant, “content” to complain only on internet sites and in support groups.

        Even though things are “better” than they once were, they are nowhere near “good” — information and aggressive self-advocacy is still essential with probably *most* doctors.

        Gilda could afford “the best,” for example, and they ignored her inklings and downplayed her symptoms until it was too late to stand a shot at saving her life.


  4. I remember Gilda from Saturday Night Live. My friends and I would stay up late watching that show and she was one of my favorites. And Gilda’s club is awesome. When I had my bout with cancer, they were there for me. 🙂 Thanks for writing about Gilda today. She was one in a million.

    Liked by 1 person


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