Inside People

IN 1991, PEOPLE PRESIDENT ANN S. Moore joined actor Gene Wilder and cancer psychotherapist Joanna Bull in founding Gilda’s Club, a support group for people living with cancer. Named for Wilder’s wife, comedian Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989, the organization provides a place for people with the disease to come together to sustain each other and to be counseled by cancer survivors, free of charge. The club, says Moore, “tackles a terrifying subject in an uplifting and hopeful way.”

Now, Princess Diana—a longtime supporter of cancer research and a patron of London’s Royal Marsden Hospital—has lent a hand to Gilda’s Club. She accepted an invitation from Northwestern University to be guest of honor at the Gilda’s Club Corporate Vision Awards in Chicago, an event sponsored by PEOPLEfirst, an umbrella organization dedicated to using the magazine’s resources to serve the community. “Diana wants to use her clout to do something about cancer, particularly with women and children,” says Moore. “This is an extraordinary fund-raising opportunity.”

It’s also an opportunity for royal watchers. “Chicago has played host to popes and presidents, but I don’t think anything compares to the press frenzy Diana’s trip generated,” says senior editor Bonnie Johnson, who oversaw our coverage of the three-day visit (see page 42), the highlight of which was the June 5 black-tie gala held at the Field Museum of Natural History. There, Wilder and Bull presented awards to two corporate leaders—Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck, and James E. Preston, chairman and CEO of Avon Products—for their support of community programs for people with cancer.

The following afternoon, the princess attended a Celebration of Life luncheon at the Drake Hotel, which was hosted by INSTYLE magazine, and also sponsored by PEOPLEfirst Three Chicago women were honored for their work: Sharon B. Murphy, a hematologist and oncologist; Nancy Anderson, a nurse clinician in the field of gynecologic oncology; and Catalina Reyna Ramos, the Latina outreach coordinator at Y-ME, a national breast-cancer-survivors organization. “I wanted to highlight cancer-care workers who are on the front lines,” says Moore. But every fundraiser needs a big-name draw, and this one had three such speakers: actress Mario Thomas, writer Anna Quindlen and Today coanchor Katie Couric.

Money raised by these events will benefit the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the Royal Marsden Hospital and, of course, Gilda’s Club. “Everything about Gilda’s Club makes us happy,” says Moore. “It is designed to allow a person to be an active patient—and to be a survivor.”

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