BENEFITING: Imerman Angels
EVENT DATE: Oct 08, 2017
How Imerman's Angels Began
Imerman Angels was created on the belief that no one should have to face cancer alone and without the necessary support. At 26 years old, Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer and began his fight against the disease. Throughout his experience, Jonny was lucky enough to have loving support from his family and friends but had never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor. He wanted to talk to someone just like him, someone who truly understood, and was intimately familiar with his experience. In short, he was looking for someone who had already faced the same type of cancer. This was the beginning of Jonny’s vision and in 2003, it became a reality when he founded Imerman Angels.
What They Do
Through our unique matching process, Imerman Angels partners anyone seeking cancer support with someone just like you – a “Mentor Angel”. A Mentor Angel is a cancer survivor or caregiver who is the same age, same gender, and most importantly who has faced the same type of cancer. Our service is absolutely free and helps anyone touched by any type of cancer, at any cancer stage level, at any age, living anywhere in the world. These one-on-one relationships give a cancer fighter or caregiver the chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who has been there before. Mentor Angels can lend support and empathy and help cancer fighters and caregivers navigate the system, determine their options and create their own support systems. Frequently, caregivers experience feelings similar to those of the person facing cancer. Mentor Angels can relate while being sensitive to the experience and situation.
My Story/Why I Chose Imerman's Angels
As many of you may know, my connection to cancer goes back 20 years. For those of you who don't, I'll give you a summary of how it has affected my life and why it led to fundraising for Imerman's Angels.
It was 1997, and I was a chubby 13 year old in 8th grade. My primary concerns during that time were trying to play as much basketball as possible and trying to figure this whole puberty thing out. I still had hair, and it was pretty luscious, that wouldn't last too long. One day I realized that my dad wasn't really eating much and when he'd try to it was almost like he was choking on his food and some days he literally would choke on it and have to throw it back up. He and I were/are equally as stubborn so he didn't think it was anything worth getting checked out, so I figured it was all fine. But it wasn't fine. It turned out he had esophageal cancer that was progressively getting worse as the months went by, until it was finally diagnosed and he began treatment. He had to have a feeding tube put in and I remember how bad the cans of Equate smelled when I would have to pour it for him. When you're 13 everything is a secret and you don't get much information, except for when you wake up early on a Saturday pretend to be sleeping and listen to your mom's phone conversations about what is really going on. With or without the eavesdropping it was obvious, things weren't great. On June 10th, I went to my grandma's apartment to help her carry something up a flight of stairs. Her phone rang and I didn't hear the whole conversation but I heard, "Ok, I'll try to keep him up here as long as I can." I knew what that meant. "As long as I can" was about 3.5 seconds as I sprinted down the stairs and back to our apartment. My dad passed away a week before my 8th grade graduation.
Let's fast forward 15 years, to 2012. I am a super handsome, slightly chubbier 29 year old. I am at work and I get call from my mom telling me that they found a lump in her breast and it was probably nothing but they were going to do some tests. I didn't really think anything of it, she didn't seem overly worried about it. I talked to my sister about it she didn't lead me to believe it wasn't anything to be worried about. So, I didn't worry. It was probably nothing. Apparently, things are just as much a secret at 29 as they are when you're 13. Maybe I should've asked more questions or did more research but, I'm still pretty stubborn. I didn't fully understand the scope of what was happening and that my mom did indeed have breast cancer. She ended up going through a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. I can't say she came out of it completely unscathed. The radiation definitely took a toll on her body, even until this day she is dealing with the effects. But luckily, they were able to detect it early and she's still here 5 years later, cancer free.
It's now June 2013, I am a pretty fat, bald, almost 30 year old at this point. I just returned home from a long weekend in Put In Bay, Ohio with my friends. The last thing I want to do, is really do anything at all, I just need to lay down. I walk in the door and my mom tells me we're going by Angie's (my sisters) for dinner. I politely declined, mainly because I feel like a zombie. She flips out and says we just need to go over there. My brain isn't firing on all cylinders after the weekend but something seems pretty weird about this whole situation. I ask her why is it so important we go over there, and she reluctantly tells me that Angie was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. I was definitely not ready for that news on this day, at this time. It didn't make any sense to me, she's had health issues for years, but gets regular colonoscopies, and how is it possible that it just showed up now? Apparently, it was possible, and it was happening. All I knew was two things were going to happen. One, my sister was going to fight this thing, and two I wasn't going to be stubborn and assume everything was going to be alright. I did my research, understood the scope, looked into the odds, and didn't like what I saw, it didn't look good. I was right about Angie though, she fought it, as hard as she could. You would've never known she had anything wrong with her, she was as positive as anyone could've been while she went through intense chemotherapy sessions. We hung out more than normal that summer. I was jobless and she wasn't going in to work that often due to doctors’ visits, and chemo. She would tell me I was the only one she liked because I didn't treat her any differently than I did before she was diagnosed. It was a combination of not knowing any other way to treat her and not wanting to really admit that my sister was fighting a fight I didn't know if she could win. On my birthday that year, in August, she gave me a card with a small note on it, "sorry it looks like you get stuck with mom." I still have it. She passed away on November 20th.
That was probably a much longer story than it needed to be, and I doubt anyone will read it all.
But it brings me to why I chose Imerman's Angels to be my charity for my first marathon.
In the last 20 years, the above three paragraphs are probably the first time I have ever talked about or wrote about how cancer has affected my life and what I was feeling during these times. I internalized everything and tried to use that as a coping method. Just keep moving forward and try not to think about it. Imerman's Angels provides a one on one outlet to help you deal with what you're going through with someone who has gone through similar experiences as you have. I gave out about 100 bracelets as my sister battled cancer that said "No One Fights Alone." Imerman's Angels is trying to help ensure that truly nobody fights alone.
Please donate anything you can, any amount helps, in support of me running my first ever marathon, and even more important to ensure that people who need support are getting support. For every $350 raised a cancer fighter, survivor, or caregiver is matched with a Mentor Angel. It is my goal to match 15 people with Mentor Angels.
I run for my dad. I run for my mom. I run for my sister. I run for everyone affected by cancer.