Broken pipe forces Gilda's Club Royal Oak to close for now

Cancer support center left with $200,000 worth of damage after pipe breaks

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Gilda's Club in Royal Oak was hit with a broken pipe that has left the cancer support group's facility with $200,000 in damage.

You remember Gilda Radner's catchphrase: What are you trying to do, make me sick?

When you see the damage to this clubhouse it does make you heartsick.

The pipe burst in the middle of a support session and in the worst location -- the third floor ceiling -- sending water from the top floor to the basement.

"And it was literally like a fire hydrant coming out of the ceiling. Literally coming out of every light socket, flowing down the elevator shaft, down the staircase," said Laura Varon Brown, club director.

They turned off the water but it wouldn't stop. Turns out the giant leak was in the fire suppression sprinklers. It continued to flow for 40 minutes.

This clubhouse provides more than 100 programs each month for 900 cancer patients and their loved ones. Their lives are already upside down and now their sanctuary from cancer is being turned inside out.

Evie Boss is a two-time survivor.

"I have a young man right now who has cancer in both of his bones and he comes here to play flute. And he comes here because he's got a compromised immune system. Well, he can't come here and it's going to be tough to find a place where he can go," said Boss.

They're boxing up their materials and hope to re-open Monday in the church across the street. They may get their clubhouse back in a month or two.

Meanwhile, they are keeping their humor up like their founder. Like one patient who spotted some attractive firefighters arriving.

"What brought real levity to it was in the middle of these firefighters running through and everything happening she looked up and said, 'Boy am I glad I wore my good wig,' because you know the firefighters are quite handsome," said Brown.

Insurance should cover the damage but we all know too well there are always hidden costs that bite you.

If you want to donate, you can find more information here.

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