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MUSCATINE, Iowa – “On March 21, 2014, we officially joined the damn club.” That’s what Margaret McCaffery, a champion of families living with cancer, told an audience of more than 75 on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Gilda’s Club Champions of Hope Luncheon in Muscatine. Ms. McCaffery’s son, Patrick, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer the day after his 14th birthday in the spring of 2014. She told the QCBJ she was really scared at first hearing the diagnosis, and then she just said “OK, how are we going to fight and get through this thing?” “Gilda Radner (whom Gilda’s Club is named for) said that having cancer gave me membership in an elite club that I would rather not belong to,” said Ms. McCaffery. “And I think that those of us who have joined that club … patients, care givers, family members, and survivors … can all relate to that sentiment. The one good thing about joining the club is that it does give you a community around you. And I think that’s really important.” The message of hope and encouragement she offered those attending the luncheon is rooted in the community that is built when a family “joins the club” of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, she added. “I always say it’s not a club you want to be in, but when you have to join it, you are amazingly grateful for the support and the love and the insight of the other members…so you have a community,” Ms. McCaffery said. She believes “the blessings of this community are that as difficult and terrible as it is to have to deal with cancer, we get to go through it together.” Today, eight years later Patrick McCaffery is a member of the University of Iowa Men’s Basketball team, where he and his older brother play for their father, Hawkeyes Coach Fran McCaffery. Both Mr. and Ms. McCaffery are heavily engaged in the fight against cancer through the American Cancer Society’s Coaches Vs. Cancer Program and the University of Iowa Healthcare Adolescent & Young Adult Program. In 2015, the McCaffery family received the Fighting Spirit Award from the American Cancer Society and in 2018, Ms. McCaffery joined the American Cancer Society Board of Directors. The Gilda’s Club Champions of Hope Luncheon was held to raise money to support the programs specifically serving those impacted by cancer in the Muscatine community. According to Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities Executive Director Joy McMeekan, the funds will help provide for direct staff services dedicated to Muscatine as well as virtual hybrid programming. “We adapted to and learned from COVID how to deliver our programs virtually,” said Ms. McMeekan. “Often cancer patients are too sick and don’t feel well enough to come out to our location to receive services, so the virtual option is a way to reach people, especially those in more rural areas.” Gilda’s Club Quad Cities provides support, education and hope to all people affected by cancer. As a Cancer Support Community affiliate, Gilda’s Club is part of the largest employer of psychosocial oncology mental health professionals in the United States. The local club now has two locations in the Quad Cities to make its programs of social and emotional support accessible to cancer patients and their families. It has facilities at Genesis Medical Center - West Campus, Davenport, and UnityPoint Health Trinity, Moline. In addition to donors who attended the luncheon, Gilda’s Club is grateful for the support of the Muscatine business community. Sponsors of the luncheon include: UnityPoint Health Trinity Muscatine, HNI Foundation, V.H.Willis Company, SSAB Iowa, Wittich-Rieley-Freers Funeral Home, HON, Next Gen Auto, Fresh Homes & Lifestyle Market, and Olsen Family Dentistry. Former Quad Cities radio personality Tony ‘Tone’ Loconsole served as emcee for the event.